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Bill seeks to limit ID theft law
Report: Vote expected next week on bill that would pre-empt state laws, limit consumers' ability to request a credit freeze.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - In what likely will be a prickly issue with many Americans, Congress next week is expected to vote on a bill that would limit consumers' ability to request a credit freeze, according to a published story Wednesday.

USA Today reported that the proposed Financial Data Protection Act of 2006 pre-empts laws in 17 states that allow anyone to freeze their own credit and instead permits only ID theft victims to request a freeze.

If it becomes a law, vets and military personnel who live in states that permit unrestricted credit freezes would lose that option, the newspaper said.

Critics of the measure said the bill tramples states' rights and undermines the consumer-protection role of state attorney generals, the report said.

"If you have a strong federal standard, that's one thing. But this is very weak federal standard," the paper quoted Susanna Montezemolo, policy analyst at the Consumers Union, as saying.

Other critics, including Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna, equated the measure to "telling someone you can't put a deadbolt on your front door until after you've been burglarized," the report said.

According to the report, a credit freeze cuts off access to a person's credit history. Since most banks and merchants insist on seeing a credit report before issuing credit, identity thieves can't open bogus accounts using stolen data.

But under the bill, which is backed by the financial services industry, simply having your data lost or stolen isn't enough. Theft victims must file a police report describing a specific instance of it being used to commit a crime.

Proponents said that fewer breaches would result. "If we can protect the data better on the front end, it will diminish the need for law enforcement to chase down the bad guys," Andrew Barbour, vice president of government affairs for the Financial Services Roundtable, a banking lobbying group, told the newspaper.

The bill also would pre-empt laws in 29 states requiring companies, institutions and agencies to notify individuals about security breaches compromising their data, the paper said.

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Related: Could you be the next victim of ID theft? Top of page

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