Credit Act Affects Businesses Too

March 14, 2005
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DETROIT — In addition to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act that went into effect nationally this month, certain business practices have also been affected by Michigan’s effort to curb identity theft.

“For example, a person’s social security number can no longer be used as an employee number or account number, and it cannot be required as a condition for doing business,” said Kathryn Ossian, leader of the Information Technology practice at Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone PLC.

Ossian, a steering committee member of the Michigan Electronic Crimes Task Force, said a series of state bills known as the Identity Theft Protection Act also prohibits a victim of identity theft from being denied credit or public utility service.

The law also forbids firms from extending credit to a consumer by using an unsolicited check that contains personal identifying information. The act also bans extending credit to a consumer without taking reasonable procedures to verify the identity of that consumer.

An intentional violation of these practices is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 30 days and/or a fine of not more than $1,000. The act also states that civil remedies for such prohibited practices are not precluded.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the bills into law in December. The act went into effect on March 1, the same day the federal regulation became effective in Michigan.

“Identity theft costs consumers and businesses billions of dollars each year,” said the governor. “These new laws will help us better protect consumers from this awful, invasive crime.”    

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