In the Equifax security breach last year, hackers stole Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and other personal information from 1.1 million Iowans.
Wary of identity theft, many consumers requested a freeze on their credit reports. They then learned that they had to pay a fee to get the freeze and pay again if they wanted to lift the freeze. Iowans have been paying some of the highest fees in the nation, according to the state Attorney General.
This year, we banned Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and other credit reporting agencies from charging fees when Iowans freeze checks on their credit reports (SF 2177). Freezing prevents anyone, including an identity thief, from opening a new line of credit in your name. If you need to apply for a credit card, loan or job that requires a background check, you can have the freeze lifted, even temporarily.
We?re also cracking down on illegally using technology to steal payment card information (HF 2199).
Criminals can access your credit and debit cards remotely through your clothes, wallet or purse, or place nearly undetectable ?skimming devices? on gas pumps and other card readers that steal your information. Your card information can even be transferred to another card for the thieves to use later.
Starting July 1, it will be a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison to use a scanning device to take payment card information without authorization, or to use an encoding machine to transfer information from one card to another. In addition, it will be an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison to possess a scanning device intended to obtain payment card information without authorization.
You can find helpful tips to avoid credit card fraud and identity theft on the Iowa Attorney General?s website.
? Sen. Rich Taylor represents Henry and Lee counties and portions of Washington and Jefferson counties.