New Jersey considering tougher consumer privacy requirements

(Alan Tu/WHYY)

(Alan Tu/WHYY)

A package of bills advancing in the New Jersey Legislature would hold companies more accountable when consumers’ personal information is compromised.

One of the bills would allow a parent or guardian to put a freeze on a child’s credit report preventing new credit cards being opened in their names, said Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, chair of the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.

“Twenty-nine 29 other states do this. We need to do it here. We need to protect our minors,” said Moriarty, D-Gloucester. “We need to protect their information because there are people out there that will take that information and use it fraudulently to start their own credit and compromise people’s information.”

Sponsored by Assemblyman Jim Kennedy, the bill calls for requiring a company that had a data breach to pay the costs for customers to get a credit report every month for six months. It would benefit businesses, as well as consumers, he said.

“The example easier to demonstrate would be a payroll company. You’re a small employer, say you have a hundred people in your firm. The company that writes those checks to those people gets breached,” said Kennedy, D-Union. “You know they’re going to have access to the Social Security numbers. You can do a lot with that.”

Another bill intended to reduce the risk of identity theft would require credit reporting agencies to encrypt the information they send out when they get requests about consumer credit worthiness.

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