Congressman Barrett, Expert Discuss Identity Theft in Telephone-Town Hall
Congressman Barrett speaks to constituents throughout the Third District from his D.C. office during a telephone-town hall on identity theft.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Congressman Gresham Barrett simultaneously called over 25,000 constituents throughout the Third District during a telephone-town hall to discuss ways citizens could protect themselves from identity theft. Congressman Barrett was joined by Paula Pierce, the Managing Attorney for the Victims Initiative for Counseling, Advocacy, and Restoration of the Southwest (VICARS), who responded to citizens’ questions on how to prevent the crime and steps to take after becoming a victim of identity theft.
“Identity theft is a growing problem in our society, and especially now, it is easier to become a victim of this crime,” said Congressman Barrett to callers participating in the telephone-town hall. “The first thing to do to protect against identity theft is to think about shredding bank statements and other personal mail. Citizens should also utilize resources that offer information, counseling and advice that can enhance knowledge about identity theft.”
According to Pierce, more than 5,000 people in South Carolina are affected by identity theft each year. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that this crime is the most common complaint by consumers in each state, and that for three consecutive years, the number of complaints has grown. Congress has recently tried to address this issue by increasing the penalties for those committing this crime such as in the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, which was signed into law on July 15, 2004,
Congress has also given consumers additional rights and privacy protections. For example, in 2003, Congress successfully passed H.R.2622, the Fair and Accurate Transactions (FACT) Act. The bill included a number of amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) aimed at protecting the privacy of the information in a consumer’s credit report, assisting victims of identity theft, and preventing fraudulent credit transactions. Through the FACT Act, consumers can request one free credit report a year.
Below are websites that provide information on preventing and recovering from identity theft that are also listed on Congressman Barrett’s website at www.barrett.house.gov
For identity theft prevention:
For identity theft victims: