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Schumer pushes for Social Security legislation protecting victims of identity theft

Ryan Delaney
Sen. Charles Schumer wants to see more done to help people who are victims of identity theft, especially when it comes to Social Security numbers. (file photo)

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) wants to give New Yorkers a way to fight back if their Social Security number is stolen. Schumer says he is pushing for a so-called "Bill of Rights" that would provide victims of identity theft with a way to minimize the damage of losing their Social Security number.

If passed, it would allow victims of identity theft to pursue civil damages for up to three times the amount stolen. It would also provide Social Security beneficiaries with a single point of contact if their number is stolen.

"They call the Social Security Administration to say their Social Security card is stolen," Schumer said. "And unlike with a credit card, they don't just give you a new one. They have to work with you to undo the harm. There's no individual point of contact. So you call one day, and the next day you call and there's somebody else there and somebody else. Seniors have reported to me across New York state how frustrated they are with this."

The senator also says the legislation would implement a faster and more responsive notification system for the Social Security Administration if changes are made to an account.

"We would require electronic notification from the S.S.A., so the crooks that often use, when they steal the numbers, they go and use them right away," Schumer explained. "You would know and you could put a stop to it."

A Social Security number can be used to commit an array of crimes, like steal from bank accounts, file taxes and steal benefits. Schumer says some of these proposals are already used for credit cards and bank accounts, and have been proven to work. He also says his legislation has bipartisan support and could be passed during the Senate's lame duck session in November.

In 2012 alone, Schumer says more than 100,000 people in central and northern New York reported some form of identity theft.