Conn. Governor M. Jodi Rell today signed into law legislation to help safeguard personal information such as Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers and insurance, bank and credit card account numbers.

"Identity theft has become one of the most frightening non-violent crimes of the 21st century and has become all too common," Governor Rell said. "This is especially true for folks like our senior citizens, many of whom are accustomed to giving their Social Security number as part of their personal identification. There was a time when Social Security numbers were everywhere -- used on insurance cards and other important documents; often they were even printed on our checks. Now Social Security numbers -- and all similar information -- must be safeguarded much more carefully.

"In our fast-paced world, it takes only moments for someone to steal an identity and commit significant, long-lasting damage to a credit record," Governor Rell said. "This bill protects not just Social Security numbers, but any personal information. The law requires anyone possessing such information to safeguard it, along with the computer files and documents containing it, and specifically mandates that businesses that collect Social Security numbers develop a privacy protection policy. Those who violate the law will be subject to civil penalties of $500, up to a maximum of $500,000 per instance."

Governor Rell signed the bill at the Bristol Senior center, highlighting the importance of protecting senior citizens from the threat of identity theft.

"This bill is an important step in our continuing effort to safeguard Connecticut residents and I am pleased to sign it into law," Governor Rell said.