Gov. Baldacci Signs Bill to Assist Maine Identity Theft Victims

March 20, 2006

Mainers who become victims of identity theft are getting some help from the Legislature, which enacted a bill that follows up on State House action taken last year.

A bill signed by Gov. John Baldacci clarifies the process of cleaning up credit reports of people who become identity theft victims. The law takes effect later this year.

Supporters describe Rep. Carol Grose’s bill as the missing piece in Maine’s identity theft laws.

The Woolwich Democrat’s bill clarifies that information that goes in a consumer’s credit report as a result of identity theft is considered inaccurate data for purposes of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and is subject to correction by the consumer reporting agency.

As refined by committee, the bill is more consistent with existing state and federal laws, the sponsor said. Passage of the legislation also puts Maine among seven other states that have enacted laws that go beyond federal procedures.

“Identity theft victims have to jump through all sorts of hoops just to regain control of their accounts and information,” Grose said. “Victims don’t deserve bad credit for a criminal’s bad choices.”

Passage of Grose’s bill continues legislative action on identity theft laws last year. One required brokers of personal information to notify consumers when their personal information has been compromised, and the other allowed consumers to freeze their credit reports when they learn they have been victimized by identity theft.

Baldacci also signed into law a measure to make it easier for Maine’s immigrants to get health insurance. The law took effect immediately upon his signature last Thursday. The law simplifies the process for immigrants to prove that they live in the state and plan to stay in Maine. To become eligible, immigrants now have to show two of six specified documents showing where they live.

Supporters said the legislation eases stringent state requirements that were put in place more than a dozen years ago.

A pending consumer-protection bill, which has the support of the Baldacci administration and attorney general’s office, would outlaw a practice in which dealers acquire the private records of cell-phone consumers and sell them for fees on the Internet.

No one spoke in opposition to the bill during a committee hearing Thursday, according to its sponsor, Rep. John Brautigam, D-Falmouth. The National Council of Investigative Services, the National Association of Legal Investigators and the Maine Licensed Private Investigators Association also spoke in support of the legislation, he said.

Brautigam said his bill would close a legal loophole that allows companies to sell cell phone records they acquire over the Internet, usually for a price of about $100 for a month’s worth of the records of virtually any cell phone user.

Action is also pending on a bill prohibiting insurance companies from using crash data from cars and trucks against drivers.

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