After having his own identity stolen, New York State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara is promoting the Data Security Act in hopes that he will minimize the victims of phishing scams.
(TNS) -- Angelo Santabarbara is not immune to cyber security threats.
Santabarbara, the Assemblyman from Rotterdam, was in downtown Schenectady on Monday promoting the Data Security Act, a bill introduced earlier this year in the state Legislature.
The bill, Santabarbara said, would help protect consumers from online identify theft by strengthening the security measures that businesses must take to protect consumer information such as passwords and email addresses that are commonly used in online purchases.
Santabarbara said he and his wife were recently the victims of online identity theft after someone illegally made purchases using his credit card.
He said he chose to promote the Data Security Act on Monday because it was also "Cyber Monday" — a huge day of sales for online retailers that comes just days after Black Friday.
Email scammers use a technique known as "phishing" in which they try and get user names and passwords from consumers and then use that information to make online purchases.
Santabarbara said that phishing schemes increase exponentially on Cyber Monday since people are actively looking for great deals. And the scams, which ask for password and user name information, often are disguised as special coupons.
Santabarbara said that consumers should contact their credit card companies immediately if they suspect they have fallen victim to a phishing scam that used their credit card information.
"Be aware that people are after that (personal) information," Santabarbara said. "It's better to be safe than sorry."
The Data Security Act, which was first proposed last January by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, would increase the maximum penalty that companies could face over lax security measures from $150,000 to $1 million.
Under current law, businesses are only required to protect Social Security, driver's license and credit card numbers. The new law would protect biometric information as well, such as fingerprint IDs that are increasingly replacing passwords in online commerce and on smart phones.
Santabarbara made his pitch for the Data Security Act at the New York BizLab, a business incubator on State Street in downtown Schenectady that is owned by Antonio Civitella, CEO of Transfinder, the Schenectady-based transportation routing software company.
Civitella said the legislation would be welcome in the software and e-commerce industries.
"Our clients require us to protect their student information in our systems," Civitella said. "The news is filled with examples of cyber breaches, and every time we log on we face cyber threats that could have long and profound impacts on our well-being."
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