CHICAGO – August 22, 2011. As part of his ongoing commitment to consumer protection, Governor Pat Quinn today signed four pieces of legislation to strengthen safeguards for Illinois consumers. The new laws cover a range of consumer issues including: increasing penalties for financial exploitation of the elderly, protections for consumers in the event of car dealership bankruptcy and creating additional levels of security for personal and identity information.
“It is critical that we continue to improve consumer protections for the people of Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “This legislation will help protect our elders, those making large investments and all Illinoisans from identity theft by safeguarding their sensitive personal data.”
House Bill 1689, sponsored by Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Lockport) and Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), increases penalties for the financial exploitation of an elderly person or a person with a disability. According to the AARP, financial exploitation of the elderly is the most commonly reported crime to Illinois’ Elder Abuse and Neglect Program, constituting nearly 60 percent of reports. Nationally, elder financial abuse costs victims more than $2.6 billion every year. To both penalize and deter those that prey on the most vulnerable, the legislation lowers the dollar threshold required for indictment on a Class 1 (more than $50,000, down from $100,000) and Class 2 (between $5,000 and $50,000, down from $100,000) felony if the crime is committed against an elder or person with a disability.
House Bill 3025, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Burke (D-Oak Lawn) and Sen. Edward D. Maloney (D-Chicago), provides additional safeguards and penalties surrounding the protection of personal information, including prevention and following a breach. The new law requires the disposal of materials containing personal information in a manner that renders the information unreadable, unusable and undecipherable. In the event of a breach, House Bill 3025 also increases the notification provided to affected individuals. Before the law, entities were required to notify the individual 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 these sources about fraud alerts and security freezes.
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.
Governor Quinn today also signed House Bill 880, which creates the Dealer Recovery Trust Fund to protect consumers in the event of a car dealership’s bankruptcy. Some dealerships entering bankruptcy have refused 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. Sponsored by Rep. Kelly Burke (D-Oak Lawn) and Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), House Bill 880 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.
Additionally, House Bill 1518, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) and Sen. John Mulroe (D-Chicago), was signed by Governor Quinn today. The bill increases the income threshold for eligible seniors under the Senior Citizen Real Estate Tax Deferral Act from $50,000 to $55,000.
House Bill 1518 is effective immediately. House Bills 1689, 3025 and 880 take effect Jan. 1.