Identity theft information and resources in North Carolina
North Carolina - ranked 21 in the nation - slightly outpaces the rest of the country when it comes to identity theft problems. However, aggressive laws have placed the state on the cutting edge when it comes to finding a solution.
This article provides useful statistics on identity theft in North Carolina, explains the North Carolina identity theft laws, and perhaps most important, provides the best resources for preventing and recovering from identity theft in North Carolina.
North Carolina Identity Theft At a Glance
Like the rest of the country, North Carolina saw identity thefts triple in just a few years before 2005. At about the same time states began to fight back and pass tough new laws.
According to North Carolina's Attorney General Roy Cooper, about 300,000 residents have their identities stolen in North Carolina each year, costing victims an average of $800 in cash and 175 hours in time spent recovering.
How are these identities stolen? It appears computer theft is one popular tactic.
A 2007 Attorney General's office report said security breaches, compromising the personal information of over 500,000 North Carolina residents, had involved theft of laptops, computers or other computer equipment 52 percent of the time.
Other breaches were caused by unauthorized releases/displays of personal information and by computer hackers. Almost half of all breaches came from the financial services and insurance industry, the report said.
North Carolina Identity Theft Laws
The North Carolina Attorney General began advocating laws to end identity theft in 2002. That year he backed legislation giving identity theft victims the right to take private legal action.
In 2003 another law stopped retailers and businesses from printing entire credit card numbers on consumers' receipts.
Then in 2005 North Carolina passed the Identity Theft Protection Act, considered one of the most comprehensive identity theft laws in the country.
The new law made it possible for consumers to freeze access to their credit reports even before they were victims of identity theft. When a freeze is placed on an account, credit bureaus will not release information needed to open new lines of credit.
The law also required businesses to file a police report when consumer information is lost or stolen. It also forced businesses to shred all personal information when it was no longer needed.
In 2006 the North Carolina legislature passed an amendment that applied these same requirements to government agencies.
Penalties for violating the Identity Theft Protection Act can be costly. North Carolina may fine businesses up to $5000 per violation for noncompliance, even when there is no evidence of harm to a consumer.
The law protects credit and debit card numbers, PINs, digital signatures, biometric data, fingerprints, passwords, parent's last name prior to marriage, electronic identification numbers and any other number or information that can be used to access a person's financial resources.
Getting More Information on Identity Theft in North Carolina
North Carolina has a "one-stop-shop" to inform and protect you from identity theft.
Among the site's offerings:
- An identity theft "toolkit" with step by step instructions on how to recover from identity theft.
- An affidavit you can fill out, copy and mail to creditors as often as needed when accounts are fraudulently opened in your name.
- Advice on what to do when your identity has been used to commit a crime.
- A sample credit freeze letter.
To learn more about identity theft and how you can keep it from happening to you, please visit the ScamBuster.org Identity Theft Information Center: