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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"Be safe while shopping online"
ALBANY, Nov. 25 -- “Cyber Monday,” the day after
the traditional Thanksgiving weekend
thing we know for certain about our rapid, global march into the world
of e-commerce is that it’s become big, big business. But we also
must recognize that there’s an unprecedented exchange of online
information going on, which compels this reminder: Don’t overlook
the privacy and other
The New York State Senate has held a number of legislative hearings over the years to give creditors, law enforcement officials, computer security experts, and others the opportunity to share their thoughts on mapping out more effective strategies to address a host of privacy concerns. These concerns include one that’s become commonly known as “identity theft,” arguably the overriding fear underlying today’s online economy.
It’s been noted in the past that identity theft costs more than eight million American consumers an estimated $40 billion annually. According to the Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse, in 2009 New York State ranked eighth in the nation in per capita identity theft complaints. It’s clear that the availability of information in computer databases and the rapid growth of Internet commerce have produced a new breed of criminals who abuse technologies to steal consumer information and ruin consumer credit. Indeed, identity theft is considered the No. 1 and fastest-growing financial and consumer crime of this era.
The tactics of today’s cybercriminals change as fast as our technology, often faster. It all serves to highlight the ongoing challenge to keep identity theft laws ahead of identity thieves. New York became the 43rd state in the nation to enact an identity theft law in 2002. But security studies continually point to the need to update our laws as frequently as cybercriminals update their ability to break them. It’s no easy task.
One important new law approved a few years ago enabled consumers to
place a “security freeze” on their credit reports if they
suspect they are victims of identity theft. We’ve also strengthened
New York’s identity theft protections by enacting laws to restrict
the ability of employers to use an employee’s personal information
and to allow identity theft victims to obtain restitution equal to the
value of the time they spend fixing the damage, which is substantial.
It takes an estimated average of 14 months for an identity theft victim
to discover that his or her identity has been stolen. Victims then spend
at least $800 and devote more than 175 hours of their own time to clean
up their credit reports after an identity theft has occurred, according
to the federal General Accounting Office.
In short, it’s costly and it’s time-consuming. So the first
line of defense is for every consumer to be aware of identity theft, how
it’s committed, and ways to protect against it. The Federal Trade
Commission (FTC), the nation’s lead consumer protection agency,
operates a website to promote online safety. Go to www.ftc.gov and click
on the “Fight Back Against Identity Theft” icon on the home
page. Information can also be found on the New York State Division of
Consumer Protection’s website at www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection.
If you’d like a copy of a well-received
My very best wishes to all of you and your families, friends and neighbors throughout this holiday season.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend --
Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869