Atlanta- Governor Zell Miller signed into law today the Personal Financial Security Act proposed by Attorney General Thurbert Baker during the 1998 session of the General Assembly. The act, which will go into effect July 1, is aimed at putting an end to consumer rip-offs and fraud by protecting personal identification numbers so that thieves cannot use those numbers to get at consumers' money.
Under the act, the Attorney General is authorized to prosecute criminals who use credit card, social security, bank account or other personal identification numbers to steal people's money. "In this day and time, we as consumers are known more by numbers - credit card numbers, social security numbers, drivers' license numbers and other personal identification numbers - than by our names, and thieves are accessing this information to steal our hard earned dollars," said Baker. "With nothing more than a social security number and an account number, a clever operator can tap into a consumer's funds or create a fake identity based on information taken from the consumer and in a matter of days create financial havoc that may take years to clean up," Baker added.
The new law makes it a felony in Georgia to obtain a person's personal account information or identifying numbers without permission with the intent to steal that person's financial resources. "If someone takes identifying information from you without your permission for the purpose of withdrawing money from your account, then the crime has been committed under this new law before the money is actually taken," according to Baker. "I hope this will give us a tool to take criminal action against the thief before he steals your money," Baker said.
The new law does not apply to obtaining credit information in the course of a legitimate consumer transaction or to other legitimate financial transactions where credit information is disclosed for the purpose of obtaining credit or collecting debt.