A new 60-second radio ad airing in southern California is using fear tactics in an attempt to stop voters from signing ballot measure petitions. The ad purports that giving your name and address to petition campaigners amounts to an “identity theft starter kit.”
“The threat claimed in these ads is totally false. Social Security numbers are the keys to identity theft. And obviously those are not collected by petition gatherers,” states Beth Givens, director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
The radio ads claim to be from a 501(c)(4) nonprofit called “Californians Against Identity Theft.” However, the most well-respected consumer protection groups in California, including Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the California Public Interest Research Group, Consumer Federation of California, and Identity Theft Resource Center, deny having any ties to the lobbying group. It appears to be part of a signature-suppression campaign.
“It’s outrageous that someone would disguise dirty politics as consumer protection. There is as much risk of identity theft involved in signing a petition as there is in being listed in the phone book,” said Pedro Morillas Legislative Director for the California Public Interest Research Group.
Californians should be confident that as long as they are only giving their name and address along with a signature to a petition gatherer, they are not increasing their risk of identity theft. Givens says radio ads claiming otherwise are nothing more than a “dirty tricks” strategy to thwart the political process in the name of consumer protection.
- The Sacramento Bee: Radio Ad Claims Initiatives Increases Risk for Identity Theft (07.29.11)
- The Sacramento Bee: Building Trades Union Acknowledges Ties to Identity Theft Ads (07.29.11)