130th Ohio General Assembly
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H. B. No. 624  As Introduced
As Introduced

126th General Assembly
Regular Session
2005-2006
H. B. No. 624


Representative Stewart, J. 



A BILL
To enact section 1349.52 of the Revised Code to allow a consumer to place a security freeze on the consumer's credit report.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF OHIO:
Section 1. That section 1349.52 of the Revised Code be enacted to read as follows:
Sec. 1349.52. (A) As used in this section:
(1) "Consumer reporting agency" means any person which, for monetary fees, dues or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties, and which uses any means or facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of preparing or furnishing consumer reports.
(2) "Security freeze" means a notice placed in a consumer's credit report that prohibits a consumer reporting agency from releasing the consumer's credit report or information contained in the consumer's credit report without authorization from the consumer.
(B) A consumer may elect to place a security freeze on the consumer's credit report by making a request to a consumer reporting agency in writing by certified mail, or by making a request directly to the consumer reporting agency through a secure electronic mail connection, if an electronic mail connection is provided by the consumer reporting agency.
(C) A consumer reporting agency shall place a security freeze on a consumer report not later than five business days after receiving a request pursuant to division (B) of this section. The consumer reporting agency shall send a written confirmation of the security freeze to the consumer within five business days of placing the freeze, and at the same time, shall provide the consumer with a unique personal identification number or password, which shall not be the consumer's social security number.
(D) A consumer may allow the consumer's credit report to be accessed for a specific party or period of time while a freeze is in place by contacting the consumer reporting agency by certified mail or secure electronic mail and requesting that the freeze be temporarily lifted, and providing all of the following:
(1) Information generally considered sufficient to identify the consumer;
(2) The unique personal identification number or password provided by the consumer reporting agency pursuant to division (C) of this section;
(3) The proper information regarding the third party who is to receive the consumer report or the time period for which the consumer report shall be available to users of the consumer report.
(E) A consumer reporting agency that receives a request from a consumer to temporarily lift a freeze on a consumer credit report pursuant to division (D) of this section shall comply with the request not later than three business days after receiving the request. A consumer reporting agency shall develop procedures involving the use of telephone, fax, the internet, or other electronic media to receive and process a request from a consumer to temporarily lift a freeze on a consumer credit report in an expedited manner, with the goal of processing a request within fifteen minutes of that request. A consumer reporting agency shall remove or temporarily lift a freeze placed on a consumer credit report only in the following cases:
(1) Upon consumer request, pursuant to division (D) of this section;
(2) If the consumer credit report was frozen due to a material misrepresentation of fact by the consumer. If a consumer reporting agency intends to remove a freeze upon a consumer credit report pursuant to division (E)(2) of this section, the consumer reporting agency shall notify the consumer in writing at least five business days prior to removing the freeze on the consumer report.
(F) A consumer reporting agency, when required by the "Fair Credit Reporting Act," 84 Stat. 1128 (1970), 15 U.S.C. 1681g(c) to provide a summary of rights, or when receiving a request from a consumer for information about a security freeze, shall provide the following written notice:
"Ohio Consumers Have the Right to Obtain a Security Freeze:
You may obtain a security freeze on your credit report to protect your privacy and ensure that credit is not granted in your name without your knowledge. You have a right to place a "security freeze" on your credit report pursuant to Ohio law. The security freeze will prohibit a consumer reporting agency from releasing any information in your credit report without your express authorization or approval. The security freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in your name without your consent. When you place a security freeze on your credit report, within five business days you will be provided a personal identification number or password to use if you choose to remove the freeze on your credit report or to temporarily authorize the release of your credit report for a specific party, parties or period of time after the freeze is in place. To provide that authorization, you must contact the consumer reporting agency and provide all of the following:
(1) Information generally considered sufficient to identify the consumer;
(2) The unique personal identification number or password provided by the consumer reporting agency;
(3) The proper information regarding the third party who is to receive the consumer report or the time period for which the consumer report shall be available to users of the consumer report.
A consumer reporting agency that receives a request from a consumer to temporarily lift a freeze on a credit report shall comply with the request not later than three business days or less after receiving the request.
A security freeze does not apply to circumstances in which you have an existing account relationship and a copy of your report is requested by your existing creditor or its agents or affiliates for certain types of account review, collection, fraud control or similar activities.
If you are actively seeking credit, you should understand that the procedures involved in lifting a security freeze may slow your own applications for credit. You should plan ahead and lift a freeze, either completely if you are shopping around, or specifically for a certain creditor, a few days before actually applying for new credit.
You have a right to bring a civil action against someone who violates your rights under the credit reporting laws. The action can be brought against a consumer reporting agency or a user of your credit report."
(G) A consumer reporting agency shall keep a security freeze in place until the consumer requests that the security freeze be removed. A consumer reporting agency shall remove a security freeze within three business days of receiving a request for removal from the consumer, when the consumer provides the following:
(1) Information generally considered sufficient to identify the consumer;
(2) The unique personal identification number or password provided by the consumer reporting agency pursuant to division (C) of this section.
(H) A consumer reporting agency may release a consumer credit report on which a security freeze has been placed to the following:
(1) A person, or subsidiary, affiliate, or agent of that person, or an assignee of a financial obligation owing by the consumer to that person, or a prospective assignee of a financial obligation owing by the consumer to that person in conjunction with the proposed purchase of the financial obligation, with which the consumer has or had prior to assignment an account or contract, including a demand deposit account, or to whom the consumer issued a negotiable instrument, for the purposes of reviewing the account or collecting the financial obligation owing for the account, contract, or negotiable instrument. For purposes of this paragraph, "reviewing the account" includes activities related to account maintenance, monitoring, credit line increases, and account upgrades and enhancements.
(2) A subsidiary, affiliate, agent, assignee, or prospective assignee of a person to whom access has been granted under division (D) of this section, for purposes of facilitating the extension of credit or other permissible use;
(3) Any state or local law enforcement agency, trial court, or private collection agency acting pursuant to a court order, warrant, or subpoena;
(4) Any federal, state, or local governmental entity, agency, or instrumentality that is acting within the entity's, agency's, or instrumentality's authority;
(5) A state or local child support enforcement agency;
(6) A person seeking to use the information contained in the consumer's credit report for the purpose of prescreening pursuant to the "Fair Credit Reporting Act," 84 Stat. 1128 (1970), 15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.;
(7) Any person or entity administering a credit file monitoring subscription service to which the consumer has subscribed;
(8) Any person or entity providing a consumer with a copy of the consumer's credit report upon the consumer's request.
(I) A consumer reporting agency shall not charge a consumer any fee to place a security freeze on that consumer's credit report, but may charge a reasonable fee, not to exceed five dollars, to a consumer who elects to remove or temporarily lift a security freeze on that consumer's credit report and may charge a reasonable fee, not to exceed five dollars to a consumer who fails to retain the original personal identification number provided by the consumer reporting agency and must be reissued the same or a new personal identification number.
(J) If a security freeze is in place, a consumer reporting agency shall not change any of the following official information in a consumer credit report without sending a written confirmation of the change to the consumer within thirty days of the change being posted to the consumer's file: name; date of birth; social security number; or address. Written confirmation is not required for technical modifications of a consumer's official information, including name and street abbreviations, complete spellings, or transposition of numbers or letters. In the case of an address change, the written confirmation shall be sent to both the new address and to the former address.
(K) The provisions of this section do not apply to a consumer reporting agency that acts only as a reseller of credit information by assembling and merging information contained in the database of another consumer reporting agency or multiple consumer reporting agencies, and does not maintain a permanent database of credit information from which new consumer reports are produced, except that the reseller of credit information shall honor any security freeze placed on a consumer report by another consumer reporting agency.
(L) The following entities are not required to place a security freeze in a consumer report:
(1) A check services company or fraud prevention services company that issues reports on incidents of fraud or authorizations for the purpose of approving or processing negotiable instruments, electronic funds transfers, or similar methods of payments;
(2) A demand deposit account information service company that issues reports regarding account closures due to fraud, substantial overdrafts, automated teller machine abuse, or similar negative information regarding a consumer, to inquiring banks or other financial institutions for use only in reviewing a consumer request for a demand deposit account at the inquiring bank or financial institution.
(M)(1) Any person who is negligent in failing to comply with the requirements of this section with respect to any consumer is liable to that consumer in an amount equal to the sum of:
(a) Any actual damages sustained by the consumer as a result of the failure;
(b) In the case of any successful action to enforce any liability under this section, the costs of the action together with reasonable attorney's fees as determined by the court.
(2) Any person who willfully fails to comply with any requirement imposed under this section with respect to any consumer is liable to that consumer in an amount equal to the sum of:
(a) Any actual damages sustained by the consumer as a result of the failure or damages of not less than one hundred and not more than one thousand dollars;
(b) Any amount of punitive damages as the court may allow;
(c) In the case of any successful action to enforce any liability under this section, the costs of the action together with reasonable attorney's fees as determined by the court.
(3) On a finding by the court that an unsuccessful pleading, motion, or other paper filed in connection with an action under this section was filed in bad faith or for purposes of harassment, the court shall award to the prevailing party attorney's fees reasonable in relation to the work expended in responding to the pleading, motion, or other paper.
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