SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 21 -- The California Department of Consumer Affairs issued the following press release:
     Strengthening protections for California consumers, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed AB 372 by Assemblymember Mary Salas (D-Chula Vista) reducing barriers to obtain a security freeze on consumer credit reports and SB 1448 by Senator Jack Scott (D-Pasadena) increasing penalties for acting or advertising as a real estate broker or salesperson without a license.
     "As Governor, I will continue to ensure California consumers are protected from deceitful and irresponsible practices. And, with today's action, we are helping consumers to make informed decisions on how to protect themselves and shielding them from dishonest predators," said Governor Schwarzenegger.
     Identity theft is one of the fastest growing financial crimes in the U.S. and nearly 10 million Americans fall victim to it each year. Unfortunately, most consumers are unaware of one of the best ways to protect against identity theft - placing a security freeze on their credit report. AB 372 aims to ensure all consumers are informed of their right to place a security freeze on their credit report while also making it more accessible and affordable.
     Specifically, AB 372 requires a credit reporting agency to disclose the right of a consumer to place a security freeze on their credit report, requires a credit reporting agency to place a freeze within three days of a request, allows consumers to request a freeze by regular written mail instead of certified mail and lowers the fee a credit reporting agency may charge to place a freeze from $12 dollars to $10 or $5 for consumers 65 and older.
     SB 1448 will help deter unlicensed individuals from attempting to practice real estate law in California by increasing monetary penalties. It doubles the fine of an unlicensed person acting in a capacity that requires a real estate license to $20,000 and increases the fine for an unlicensed corporation from $50,000 to $60,000. Additionally, it authorizes portions of these fines to go to the Real Estate Fraud Prosecution Trust Fund in counties throughout the state to enhance the capacity of local law enforcement to deter, investigate and prosecute real estate fraud crimes.
     More information on how to protect against identity theft can be found on the California Office of Privacy Protection Web site at http://www.oispp.ca.gov/consumer_privacy/identitytheft.asp. To file a complaint against a real estate broker or salesperson or check on actions taken against unlicensed persons please visit the Department of Real Estate Web site at http://www.dre.ca.gov/cons_home.html.
     HTS kbms 080722-1695316 HTOSharmaM


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