Add Oregon to the handful of states that allows consumers the right to protect themselves from identity theft by freezing their credit reports, reports the Oregonian.
Supporters of the Oregon Consumer Identity Theft Protection Act say that the security freeze feature, which gives people the right to control access to their credit reports by protecting them with a passcode similar to an ATM personal identity number, is probably the most import aspect of the bill.
The bill recently passed the state Senate as is expected to become law. The current law states that consumers can ask for a fraud alert on their credit records. But critics of of the bill say it is too little, too late. The legislation requires that businesses, organizations and others that collect personal information, to alert consumers as soon as possible.
"This is the Legislature playing catch-up," said Laura Etherton, consumer advocate for OSPIRG, following the Senate vote. A similar proposal was considered during the 2005 session, Etherton said, but, "It wasn't a high priority. A freeze is the only tool that blocks new credit from being issued in your name," Etherton said.
Oregon reported 2,815 identity thefts in 2006, 13th among states in a ranking by the Federal Trade Commission. Many of the security breaches occur when records kept on laptops, disks or tapes get stolen.
"With this legislation, Oregonians can be assured that great steps are being taken to protect their identity," said Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, who led the group that negotiated Senate Bill 583.