Josh RultenbergSep 28, 2017, 11:28 amSep 29, 2017, 8:37 am

NY lawmakers hold hearing on identity theft

Hearing comes after breach at Equifax exposed sensitive information belonging to 143 million Americans

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ALBANY — The New York Legislature is taking aim at identity theft.

A state Senate committee is holding a hearing Thursday in Albany to learn more about the problem and the best ways to protect consumers and their personal information.

The Consumer Protection Committee hearing comes after a massive breach at the credit monitoring firm Equifax exposed sensitive information belonging to 143 million Americans, including eight million New Yorkers.

Thursday's hearing was scheduled before the Equifax breach, but the massive cyberattack has focused more attention on identity theft and the need to safeguard information such as Social Security numbers, birthdates and drivers' license numbers.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has opened an investigation into the Equifax breach to determine what happened. He's asking other credit monitoring firms to report on their security measures.

State Sen. David Carlucci is the chair of the consumer protection committee. "Equifax has had a complete meltdown,” says Carlucci. “I've invited the leadership at Equifax to come join us at this hearing. They have thousands of employees but they have refused to send even one to testify."

It is believed that the credit reporting company waited as long as six weeks before announcing the problems. During that time, three executives sold almost $2 million in Equifax stock.

Kendell Brenner, a New City resident, says, "We should have control over our own credit and our own information instead of a for-profit agency like Equifax.”

Carlucci agrees and has a bill that he says will help the victims called the Credit Empowerment Act. "The legislation that I'm putting forth would say, 'hey, if there's a data breach, within 48 hours that consumer has to know," says Carlucci.

Equifax says cyber criminals could have accessed consumers' social security and drive license numbers, names and addresses. "It's very scary, very scary. Well, we live in a scary world right now," says David Epstein of New City.

Carlucci's bill would also allow for a request to freeze your credit even without confirmation of a breach. He says, “We have to do everything we can to protect New Yorkers.”

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