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By ARep | December 13th, 2012 - 12:35pm
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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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"Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Hudson County Democrat, is balking. He claimed Tuesday that members of his caucus are divided over the measure and that his house is in no real rush – besides, even if enacted this year, the reforms would not take effect until 2017, he said. And with the growing belief that Christie could skip town to run for president, some Democrats are not eager to give him another talking point for his résumé. Christie’s plans to stump for Republican candidates in New Hampshire later Thursday only fuel that suspicion." - columnist Charles Stile

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