Officials Push Bill to Combat Cyber Attacks, Identity Theft

By Briana Vannozzi

It’s the new reality. Your information is out there and that makes financial and personal identity theft a real threat.

“Whether it’s using their debit card at the supermarket or their credit card online, they’re completely exposed to a whole frontier of cyber hacking and crime,” said Beverly Brown Ruggia of New Jersey Citizen Action.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and Congressman Albio Sires today reintroduced legislation to combat cyber attacks and theft of personal data.

“As Americans become more reliant on technology, we need to ensure that safeguards are in place to prevent the next cyber attack and secure our private information. The stakes are just too high,” Menendez said.

Awareness is increasing as the number of data breaches does too. Among them, major companies like Sony, Home Depot, Target, eBay and J.P. Morgan Chase.

Menendez’s commercial privacy bill of rights would, among other things: Place a limit on the type of consumer information collected and how long it’s retained. It’ll protect information from being distributed to third parties and require consumer permission before sharing that party.

“With this bill it will be a timely 60-day notice that we have to give those consumers,” Sires said.

In 2012, there were 16.6 million individual cases of identity theft. That’s 7 percent of U.S. residents 16 or older and that’s almost $25 billion in financial losses. In New Jersey there were more than 7,000 cases in 2013 alone.

“It’s a red flag for a lot of us. I’m trying to use a little bit more cash now. That’s the way I’ve been shopping so,” said Joanie Viscenti of Jersey City.

Federal lawmakers are hoping the second time’s the charm, now that these cyber hacks are happening more and more often and just last week President Obama held his own cyber security summit.

“Senator Menendez and Congressman Sires were early to this a year ago. And I don’t think the average person recognized how widespread of an issue this is, a year later where you have countless number of employers that have been hacked,” said Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop.

“Maybe this won’t happen as much. I’m sure it will. I’m sure they’ll get passed something you know people when they wanna get passed they get passed.” said Bayonne Resident Kathleen.