The New Jersey Senate passed a bill Thursday that would give identity theft victims 45 days from the time a debt collector first contacts them to send a written notice alerting the agency. The measure also would require the agency to temporarily stop collection attempts.

Debt collectors would need to investigate and determine "in good faith" whether the person is responsible for the debt. If not, the bill bars the collection agency from further pursuit. Otherwise, the agency can resume efforts to recoup the debt.

Similar legislation exists in New York, California and Utah, according to a news release. 

The bill, S1344, passed the Senate on Thursday 32-0. It would need to be approved in the New Jersey Assembly before heading to the governor.

Sen. Robert Singer (R-Ocean) said identity theft victims can be buried in thousands of dollars of debt from fraudulent purchases before realizing they have been victimized. The legislation aims to help them “restore their lives and avoid the financial ruin of wrongly being tied to debt caused by fraud and no fault of their own." 

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