Vermont reaches settlement with ChoicePoint

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(Host) Vermont and 43 other states have reached a settlement with ChoicePoint – an Atlanta-based consumer information company.

Two years ago a security breach at the company compromised personal information of as many as 163,000 consumers nationwide.

The ChoicePoint breach was one of several significant incidents in 2005 where companies inadvertently put consumers at risk of fraud and identity theft.

Assistant Attorney General Julie Brill says the incidents sparked a flurry of state laws that give Vermont consumers better protection today than they had two years ago.

(Brill) “The Vermont legislature took action to protect consumers both on the front end, that is before their information is compromised as well as to better protect them on the back end, after they became a victim of identity theft.”

(Host) Brill says recently enacted laws require companies to alert Vermont consumers if there is a security breach that affects them, and to improve safeguards for confidential information.

Vermonters also now have the ability to freeze their credit reports. This helps prevents people from opening an account in another person’s name.

The settlement with ChoicePoint does not involve a fine. Instead, the company has agreed to take a number of steps to improve security.

Brill says she believes other companies will soon have to adopt similar measures.

(Brill) “There are bills pending in Congress including one sponsored by Senator Leahy that would subject all data brokers to much stricter standards in terms of how they handle data and also standards that would allow consumers to know what kind of data these companies have.”

(Host) Brill says consumers should always monitor their credit reports and check into any unusual bills or charges on their credit card statements to prevent fraud and identity theft.

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