A new law by Assemblyman Bill Dodd and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown last week, will speed up the process for identity theft victims to clear their names, Dodd’s office announced.
Dodd, a candidate for State Senate, wrote the Identity Theft Resolution Act after becoming a victim of identity theft himself last year, his office said.
This new law will “dramatically reduce” the time it takes for identity theft victims to clear their name, end harassing phone calls, and remove negative credit reporting, he said. The bill received support from Attorney General Kamala Harris and consumer advocates, and unanimously passed the legislature, his office said.
“Millions of Californians have suffered identity theft, myself included. It’s an issue that transcends partisan politics, and I want to thank Governor Brown and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this important bill,” Dodd said in the announcement. “Victims of identity theft deserve a transparent and speedy resolution process, and I will continue to fight for consumer protections.”
Identity theft occurs when perpetrators illegally use a person’s confidential information to make fraudulent purchases or apply for consumer loans in the victim’s name. The California Attorney General reports that 1.5 million Californians fall victim to this crime every year. Nationwide, identity theft has increased more than five-fold in the past 15 years, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which estimates it can take an average of six months and 200 hours of work to recover from the crime.
Under Dodd’s legislation, the recovery time-frame will be reduced to a matter of weeks, his office said.
“Identity theft is a crime that can haunt a victim for years,” Attorney General Kamala Harris said in the announcement. “Too often they must navigate a complex system to clean up their damaged credit and it can take years to recover from the loss. I am proud to support this sensible legislation that will protect victims of identity theft and fraud and help them clear their name more quickly.”
Solano County Sheriff Thomas Ferrara expressed similar support.
Dodd’s bill dramatically reduces the time frame for debt collection companies to investigate identity theft disputes, and further requires that the results of that investigation be given to the consumer in a timely manner. Debt collection companies will now be required to provide faster updates to the credit reporting agencies to delete the negative credit reporting, which can raise interest rates or block victims from accessing home loans. The law will take effect January 1.
Dodd represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all or portions of Solano, Napa, Yolo, Sonoma, Lake and Colusa counties.