Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
February 10, 2005
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senator Ellis Urges Action on Identity Theft

Praises Chairwoman Giddings, consumer advocates for shining spotlight on the issue

(Austin)// Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today urged quick action on a host initiatives aimed at protecting consumers from identity theft, and praised House Committee on Business and Industry Chairwoman Helen Giddings and consumer advocates for continuing to focus attention on the issue.

"Identity theft is a serious and growing problem that requires swift action," said Senator Ellis. "We passed sweeping legislation last session, but there is still more that can be done to ensure Texas consumers are safe. I commend the good work that Chairwoman Giddings, the Texas Public Interest Research Group and Consumers Union are doing to shine the spotlight on this issue and look forward to working closely with them throughout the 79th Legislative Session."

Last session, Senator Ellis passed SB 473, one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching identity theft bills in the nation. Among many key reforms, SB 473 allows consumers to freeze their credit when there is evidence of identity theft by filing a police report stating that they were victim of identity left, prohibits the display and disclosure of Social Security numbers to private entities and allows the Texas Attorney General to sue those engaging in ID theft under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Senator Ellis has filed SB 99 and SB 100 to improve and expand upon last session's efforts. SB 99 prevents credit granting entities or agencies from denying applicants credit based on the fact that they have been victims of ID theft in the past. The legislation tracks current federal statute that ensures consumers who have been victims of identity theft are not punished for their misfortune by being denied credit cards, mortgages, car loans and other necessary forms of lending

SB 100 improves upon this consumer protection and allows consumers to freeze their credit without a police report. Filing a police report on this sort of crime can be difficult because of complex jurisdictional issues. This new legislation allows consumers to stop identity theft more efficiently and immediately by doing away with that requirement.

"We can't allow credit agencies to discriminate against innocent Texans for circumstances beyond their control," said Ellis. "We need to make it as easy as possible for hardworking Texans to protect themselves from financial predators. These bills will give victims the right to play a more pro-active and effective role in stopping those people that have taken their identity."