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RI Senate votes to protect Social Security numbers

May 24, 2011

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PROVIDENCE, R.I.—It would be illegal for Rhode Island businesses to ask for any part of a customer's Social Security number under legislation endorsed by the state Senate.

The Senate voted 35-0 in favor of the bill Tuesday. A similar bill is pending in the House.

The state already prohibits businesses from asking for a person's entire Social Security number. The new legislation would stop businesses from using partial Social Security numbers -- most commonly the last four digits -- to identify customers or create customer passwords. Businesses that run credit checks on customers would be exempted.

The bill's sponsor is Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, a North Providence Democrat. Ruggerio says the bill would protect privacy and make it harder for criminals to commit identity theft.