Seawright Legislation Strengthens Consumer Privacy Protections

Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright today announced the passing of legislation to strengthen consumer privacy protections in credit and debit card transactions.

Many businesses in New York require personal information such as a zip code when consumers complete credit or debit card transactions.

The personal information can be used to perform reverse searches from databases that contain millions of names, email addresses, telephone numbers, and street addresses indexed in a manner resembling a reverse phone book.

The information assists with commercial marketing campaigns to consumers. The data is often offered for sale to other businesses.

Assembly Bill 1370 prohibits using such information except for the detection, investigation, or prevention of fraud, theft, identity theft, criminal activity, or the enforcement of terms of sale.

"Besides a desire for personal privacy, there are very legitimate reasons why people act to decrease the personal information easily accessible about themselves," said Assembly Member Seawright. "Our bill defines what constitutes "personal identification information," to protect consumer interests during credit and debit card transactions. "

She noted that the fastest-growing financial crime in the nation is identity theft.

By prohibiting such information from being entered electronically, the statute becomes current with the technological advances since 1987 when the law initially passed.