BUCCO BILL PROTECTING VICTIMS OF IDENTITY THEFT APPROVED IN COMMITTEE
Legislation that protects a person who is a victim of identity theft from certain actions of debt collectors was unanimously approved by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee today. Deputy Republican Leader Anthony M. Bucco, R-Morris and Somerset, is a sponsor of the bill that establishes a process for a victim of identity theft to notify a debt collector of their situation and requires the debt collector to stop collection activities until a determination is made by the collector as to whether the consumer is in fact responsible for the debt in question.
“Identity theft is a pervasive, worldwide problem,” said Bucco. “In the case where a person is unaware that their identification security has been breached, they should not be pursued by a debt collector until it is determined whether the victim is responsible for the charges in question. The anxiety a person experiences from having personal information stolen and fraudulently used can be traumatic. It is reasonable to require that a debt collector first resolve whether a charge is legitimate or was incurred through deception.
“Unraveling the extent of an identity theft is harrowing enough,” stated Bucco. “A debt collector should be mindful of these circumstances and thoroughly investigate the issue before taking action to collect on the amount in question.”
Under the bill, A-3005, a consumer must furnish a complete statement regarding the facts related to the theft of their identity to a debt collector. After the debt collector concludes the review, the consumer must be notified in writing of the determination and the basis for it. If the debt collector determines the consumer is responsible for the debt, they may resume their action to collect the amount in question.
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