Governor Perdue Signs Consumer Protection Legislation

May 13, 2008

DECATUR, GA — Today at a bill signing event held at GBI headquarters, Governor Sonny Perdue signed three pieces of legislation to protect Georgia’s consumers and prosecute identity thieves: House Bill 130, Senate Bill 388 and Senate Bill 24.

“This legislation will protect Georgia’s consumers and prosecute identity thieves who would prey upon innocent, hardworking people,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “I want to thank the members of the General Assembly and consumer advocates who supported these important bills.”

Clark Howard, a nationally-known radio personality and champion of consumer protection initiatives, GBI Director Vernon Keenan, Rep. Calvin Hill, Sen. Joseph Carter and Sen. Cecil Staton participated in the bill signing event today with Governor Perdue.

HB 130 enables Georgia’s consumers to freeze their credit and keeps criminals from accessing their credit history. It also prevents unauthorized individuals from taking out new credit cards or loans. This legislation sets the credit freeze amount at $3 and strikes a reasonable balance between the fees credit bureaus need to charge while giving consumers the ability to quickly and effectively protect their credit.

“I am excited beyond words that we in Georgia now have the best credit freeze law in the United States,” said Clark Howard. “Now, Georgians have the best way possible to shut down identity thieves cold.”

“This is one of the most significant pieces of legislation to come from the 2008 session,” said state Rep. Calvin Hill, the sponsor of HB 130.  “It shows an excellent partnership between the business community and consumer advocates. We look forward to being first in the nation to enact instant credit freeze legislation.”

SB 388, an initiative that Governor Perdue announced in January, establishes the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Identity Theft Task Force and transfers the authority to investigate identity theft from the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs to GBI.

In addition to this legislation, Governor Perdue proposed and the General Assembly approved $1 million in the FY09 budget for the creation of this task force, which will support eight new agents.

“I am confident that these new laws will have a significant impact on the crimes associated with identity theft,” said Vernon Keenan, director of the GBI.  “They not only give Georgia citizens the additional means to protect their identity, but they also provide the GBI additional resources to assist local law enforcement agencies in investigating this criminal activity.”

SB 24 protects Georgia’s consumers by increasing the penalties against identity theft by the use of Internet phishing, a method criminals use to steal an individual’s identity through the Internet. 

“SB 24 takes an important step by empowering law enforcement with specific tools to go after criminals who seek to steal our identities and personal financial information through Internet and email phishing scams,” said Sen. Cecil Staton,” chairman of the Senate Science and Technology Committee and sponsor of the legislation. “I am grateful to Governor Perdue for his support for our efforts to tackle this growing problem or users of email and the Internet.”

Governor Perdue was also joined at the event by Sen. Bill Hamrick, Sen. Renee Unterman, Sen. Chip Rogers, Sen. Ronnie Chance, Rep. Rich Golick, Rep. Kevin Levitas, and Rep. Tommy Benton.