Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
May 23, 2005
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senate Passes Ellis Amendment to Prevent Identity Theft

Senate agrees to amendment to HB 1855; Texans can freeze their credit without police report

(Austin)// The Texas Senate today passed an amendment by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) to protect consumers from identity theft. The amendment to HB 1855 by Representative Helen Giddings (D-Dallas) will allow Texans to get a security freeze on their credit without first obtaining a police report. The amendment is identical to Ellis' SB 100, identity theft legislation which passed the Senate last month.

"Identity theft is a serious and growing problem that requires swift state action," said Senator Ellis. "If Texans are responsible for cleaning up their own credit, they should have the tools available to prevent the credit mess. This legislation simply gives Texans ownership over their own credit."

Under current law, an identify theft victim theft is burdened with cleaning up their own credit, yet consumers do not have enough power over their own credit information. Senate Bill 100 allows consumers to prevent identity theft more efficiently and immediately by allowing them to get a freeze without the police report requirement. A security freeze can quickly prevent imposters from getting new credit, loans and other services in a victim's name.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation, and the methods for stealing a person's identity are growing just as quickly. In just the last three months 145,000 consumers' personal and financial information was stolen from ChoicePoint, Inc.; 98,000 individuals names and social security numbers were stolen from Berkeley; 185,000 current and former patients' records of a medical group in California were stolen, and as many as 310,000 people may have had their personal information stolen from a LexisNexis database. Currently, these consumers can not get a police report, but Senate Bill 100 would allow them to proactively protect their credit.

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.

"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."

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