By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4)– Colorado could become a model for preventing identity theft under a bill at the state Capitol. The sponsor of the bill is a victim of identity theft himself.
“A couple years ago. I got a letter from Internal Revenue Service that my Social Security number, my wife’s and all three of my daughters had been used to file tax returns,” says Rep. Cole Wist, a Republican representing Centennial.
Hackers, he says, had accessed his family’s information in a security breach at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield that impacted up to 80 million people.
“I didn’t receive prompt notification of that and really time is of the essence when you’re talking about protecting consumers.”
Which is why he’s carrying legislation that would require businesses and the state government notifiy both law enforcement and consumers of a security breach within 30 days of discovering it.
Colorado has among the highest rates of identity theft in the country and Wist says they are often as the result of security breaches that go unreported. Equifax waited more than a month to disclose its breach. Uber waited more than a year.
“We’ve got to stay two steps ahead of hackers. They’re going to continue to find ways to get into these data bases and our state needs to continue to be on the cutting-edge of trying to protect consumers.”
Hackers attempt to access state data six to eight million times a day, say lawmakers and right now the state has no policy for notification when there’s a breach.
The bill would also require the government and private sector have policies for protecting personal data and destroying it when it’s no longer needed.
Wist says his family got lucky – the IRS flagged the fraud before their credit was destroyed.
“It really did show me the risks that we all have out there because you can’t conduct business in cyberspace without having your credit card out there or your birth date out there or your Social Security number out there and really what we’re trying to say is there is going to be a minimum standard that we expect not only for private sector employers but the government.”
The bill has wide bi-partisan support and passed its first committee unanimously.