Illinois passes consumer protection laws
Illinois has passed new laws that increase penalties for financial exploitation of the elderly, protect consumers in the event of car dealership bankruptcy and create additional levels of security for personal information. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the four pieces of legislation on Monday. “This legislation will help protect our elders, those making large investments and all Illinoisans from identity theft by safeguarding their sensitive personal data,” Quinn said in a statement.
Illinois’ House Bill 1689 increases penalties for the financial exploitation of an elderly person or a person with a disability. It lowers the dollar threshold required for indictment on a Class 1 felony (to more than $50,000 from $100,000) and Class 2 felonies (to between $5,000 and $50,000, down from $100,000) if the crime is committed against an elder or person with a disability.
To provide more protection for personal information, House Bill 3025 requires the disposal of materials containing personal information in a manner that renders the information unreadable, unusable and undecipherable. Any person, entity or third-party is subject to a civil penalty of $100 (capped at $50,000) per individual whose personal information was not disposed of properly, and the Attorney General may bring a civil suit to impose a penalty.
In the event of an information breach, House Bill 3025 sets new rules for notifying affected individuals. Before the law, entities were required to notify individuals that a breach had occurred but did not detail what the notification should include. The new law requires that notification include toll-free numbers and addresses for consumer reporting agencies; the toll-free number, address and website for the Federal Trade Commission; and a statement that the individual can obtain information from those sources about fraud alerts and security freezes.
House Bill 880 creates the Dealer Recovery Trust Fund to protect consumers when car dealerships declare bankruptcy. In some cases, dealerships in bankruptcy refuse to honor agreements with customers to pay the lien on their traded-in vehicle, forcing consumers to pay for their new car, as well as the outstanding balance on their trade-in. The new law adds a new annual “dealer recovery fund” fee, which requires any new or used car dealership selling 25 or more vehicles annually to pay a $500 fee and $50 for each business location. The fund is used to help the victims of dealership closings and is administered by an independent administrator selected by the Attorney General and the Secretary of State.
Finally, House Bill 1518 increases the income threshold for eligible seniors under the Senior Citizen Real Estate Tax Deferral Act from $50,000 to $55,000. It is effective immediately, while House Bills 1689, 3025 and 880 take effect Jan. 1, 2012.
Read Quinn’s entire press release on the new laws.