House Asks Attorney General to Investigate State Data Breaches
With news breaking last week of a security breach at the Pennsylvania Department of Health and a previous breach at the Department of Human Services, the House has asked the Office of Attorney General to investigate. Since then, it has come to light that personal information of nearly 13,000 personnel and inmates within the state Department of Corrections may have been compromised in recent weeks. The attorney general has previously conducted investigations involving data breaches of Equifax, Uber, the TIO Networks, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., Facebook and the Target Corporation. In addition to the call for an investigation, the House has advanced two bills aimed at addressing such breaches: House Bill 1846
would require notice in plain language within 45 days to Pennsylvania residents when there is a breach of security and must include the date of the breach and the toll-free numbers to credit reporting agencies; and House Bill 1847
would amend the Credit Reporting Agency Act to waive the current $10 fee to freeze credit reports and would provide consumers with three months of free credit monitoring following a data breach and three free credit reports for one calendar year after the breach.
Credit Card Skimming Becomes a Crime
State law now includes criminal penalties for those who steal personal and financial data by skimming the information from credit cards that are used at such places as automatic teller machines (ATMs) or self-pay gas pumps. Until Act 60 of 2018
, possessing these devices was not illegal, even though they have no use other than for criminal, deceitful and deceptive purposes. Anyone convicted of using or possessing a scanning or skimming device now faces a third-degree felony for a first offense and a second-degree felony for a second or subsequent offense. This new law brings Pennsylvania in line with 30 other states that have enacted similar legislation. It takes effect in late August.
Preventing Double Taxation on Mobile Devices
Legislation to prevent the state from collecting double taxes from mobile telecommunications consumers is now law. Act 52 of 2018
excludes the sales of telephones, telephone handsets, modems, tablets and related accessories, including cases, chargers, holsters, clips, hands-free devices, screen protectors and batteries, from being subject to the Gross Receipts Tax. Those devices are already subject to the 6 percent Sales and Use Tax. The change is needed because the Commonwealth had not updated its definition of mobile telecommunication since 2002. During the last 16 years, communications technology has advanced, causing uncertainty about which tax better fits. The new law clarifies the definition of what is subject to the Gross Receipts Tax and is subject to the Sales and Use Tax. Updating these definitions further protects consumers from bureaucratic overreach.
Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
From data breaches to Facebook privacy to dumpster diving, many individuals are left wondering if certain facts about them and their lives are making their way around the world to be used fraudulently. To help keep up with the latest scams and frauds, the Office of Attorney General’s website, at attorneygeneral.gov
, lists advisories for consumers, tips for keeping personal information safe and news about consumer investigations. Specifically, the site offers guides for charitable giving, buying used cars, living trust scams, work-at-home schemes, telemarketing, fraudulent investment and tips for travelers. A special section – with links to brochures and in-person educational programs – is also designed for senior citizens to educate themselves about this fast-growing crime. According to the Office of Attorney General, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the third highest percentage of elderly residents in the United States with nearly 2 million residents over the age of 65. Scam artist of all types take advantage of this and target this generation.
Representative Mike Peifer
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler