The Secure Times

An online forum of the ABA Section of Antitrust Law's Privacy and Information Security Committee

Rhode Island Bills Would Prevent Use of SSNs to Identify Customers

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Rhode Island State Senators Ruggerio, Perry, Nesselbush, Jabour, and Ottiano introduced a bill last February the Consumer Empowerment and Identity Theft Prevention Act. It has been referred to the Rhode Island Senate Committee on Corporations.

The bill would prevent retailers to record a credit card number or all or part of a social security number as a way to identify the customer paying for a purchase by check. Violations would be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars. The bill would also require that, unless required by federal law, no one may require a customer to disclose all or part of a social security number incident to a sale of consumer goods or services. Violating this provision of the act would be a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars. However, insurance and financial services companies would still be authorized to require service applicants’ social security numbers. Companies providing and billing health care or pharmaceutical-related services could also still require users’ social security numbers, and a consumer applying for a credit card may still be required to disclose his social security number.

The bill would also bar any person or business offering discount cards for purchases to require a consumer to disclose all or part of her social security number as a condition to apply for the discount card. Also, no information obtained during the discount card application process could “be sold or given to any other person, firm, corporation or business entity provided, that the person, firm, corporation or other business may: (a) disclose such information to its affiliates, to service providers that perform services for it, or as required by law; and/or (b) transfer such information in connection with the sale of its business operations.”

A similar bill has been introduced by Representative Brian Patrick Kennedy, and is currently before the Rhode Island House Committee on Corporations.

A press release is available here.

Author: ABA Antitrust

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