Privacy Academy 2008 Orlando, Florida Broad Scope of FCRA Overview Regardless of how you describe your The Non-Traditional CRA business, it’s likely you use and access consumer reports. The FCRA and FACT Act cover a wide Background Screening Reports range of activities related to accessing, collecting and using consumer information. Red-Flag Rules We will discuss what business practices are regulated by these Identity Theft Prevention statutes and recent FTC rules concerning identity theft. The overall goal of this presentation is Litigation Trends heightened appreciation for the effects of noncompliance. We will end with a question and Question and Answer Session answer session. Disclaimer The remarks in this presentation do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Trade Commission or of any Commissioner, nor are they intended to be legal advice. Anyone with specific questions about a matter should consult legal counsel. An adventure in definitions Federal Trade Commission Nation’s only general jurisdiction consumer protection agency Enforcement through federal district court and administrative litigation The FCRA Passed in 1970; significant amendments in 1996 and 2003 “[T]o insure that consumer reporting agencies exercise their grave responsibilities with fairness, impartiality, and a respect for the consumer's right to privacy” FCRA Guiding Principles Privacy Limited access to consumer reports Same limits on government access, with certain exceptions Accuracy Responsibilities of consumer reporting agencies and information furnishers Consumer dispute process Fairness Adverse action notices Obsolete information deleted Who Is Covered by FCRA Consumer Reporting Agencies Furnishers – information sources Users of consumer reports And more (merchants using debit/credit cards; “financial institutions” and “creditors”) FCRA Enforcement Civil enforcement by many agencies: FTC and federal banking agencies State attorneys general Consumers: private right of action in some cases Criminal enforcement: federal or state prosecutors (e.g., information obtained under false pretenses, unauthorized disclosure by credit bureau employees) Consumer Report Defined “any written, oral, or other communication of any information by a consumer reporting agency bearing on a consumer's credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living which is used or expected to be used or collected in whole or in part for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing the consumer's eligibility for -- (A) credit or insurance to be used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes; (B) employment purposes; or (C) any other purpose authorized under section 604.” Definition Dissected Two basic elements: Information in report has a “bearing on” one or more specified consumer characteristics (e.g., credit standing) Report is “used or expected to be used (by the user) ... for the purpose of ... establishing the consumer’s eligibility (for purposes allowed by the FCRA)...” Some Important Points Has to be about a consumer – if doesn’t identify specific consumer, not a consumer report Ex. Flagging a specific internet transaction as potentially fraudulent based on comparison to aggregate data about internet transactions (e.g., time-of-day activity, geographic location, amount of the transaction, etc.), without reference to an individual consumer, is not a consumer report Includes Summaries and Evaluations of Reports Includes numerical or other evaluation of file data by a CRA, such as a credit score that bears on a consumer’s creditworthiness Includes a list of the names of people meeting certain characteristics – such as a list of creditworthy individuals, or individuals on whom CRAs have derogatory information Examples of Consumer Reports Credit report Rental history Check writing history/“bad check” lists Employment history Medical history Insurance claims history Consumer Reporting Agency Defined “any person which, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties, and which uses any means or facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of preparing or furnishing consumer reports” Mutually Dependent Definitions Consumer report = report provided by consumer reporting agency Consumer reporting agency = an entity that provides consumer reports Some Important Points Entities that work together for a common purpose without monetary compensation may form a CRA Exchange or data pool Entities that repackage and/or resell consumer report information may be CRAs Evolution of the information industry: A case study Case Study In the Matter of Ingenix, Inc. In the Matter of Milliman, Inc. Consent Decisions and Orders issued February 12, 2008 Where Industry Was Life insurance companies used service providers to get medical records Service providers requested records from health care providers, put in envelope, and mailed to insurer Record Retrieval Companies Are Not CRAs An entity that performs only mechanical tasks in connection with transmitting consumer information is not a CRA because it does not assemble or evaluate information. A business that delivers records, without knowing their content or retaining any information from them, is not acting as a CRA even if the recipient uses the records to evaluate the consumer’s eligibility for insurance or another permissible purpose. Ingenix and Milliman Provide reports on prescription drug purchase histories of insurance policy applicants, to insurance companies for underwriting decisions Obtain prescription drug histories from Pharmacy Benefit Managers and create prescription medical profiles Why CRA – “Assemble” or “Evaluate” “Assembled” -- Compiled information into single report “Evaluated” -- Analyzed information to report potential medical conditions that may be present Administrative Enforcement Action Complaints charged Ingenix and Milliman with violating FCRA by failing to provide Notice to Users Notice to Users describes FCRA responsibilities and obligations of recipients of reports, including notifying consumers if adverse action is taken, based in whole or in part, on information contained in the consumer report Consent Order 5 year record keeping obligation 20 year injunction to comply with CRA duties: Notice to Users Only furnish reports to those with permissible purpose Reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of information Reasonable procedures to handle consumer disputes Conduct reasonable reinvestigations Comply with the Disposal Rule Special Reports: Special Rules Background Reports Are Consumer Reports The definition of a “consumer report” includes more than just consumer credit information Criminal background checks, educational background checks, and license checks are consumer reports because involve the individual consumer's “character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living” Background Screening Companies Are CRAs Company that provides oral/written reports to employers about the prior work experience of applicants Company that regularly researches criminal records of job applicants and reports them to its clients Special Rules in Employment Written notice and authorization before getting report Pre-adverse action disclosure – copy of report and Summary of Rights Adverse Action Notice Using Consumer Reports: What Employers Need to Know What they are and what they’re not. What They Are “Red Flag” means: a pattern, practice, or specific activity that indicates the possible existence of identity theft “Red Flag Guidelines and Rules” Where do they come from? Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (“FACT”) Act of 2003 Amended FCRA Passed in response to concerns about misuse of personal information of consumers, including identity theft Instructed FTC and agencies to establish guidelines and rules Red Flag Guidelines 15 U.S.C. § 1681m(e)(1)(A): “The federal banking agencies, the National Credit Union Administration, and the [Federal Trade] Commission shall jointly . . . establish and maintain guidelines . . . regarding identity theft with respect to account holders at, or customers of, such entities, and update such guidelines as often as necessary . . . .” Joint Rulemaking Final rules published November 9, 2007. (Press Release) Effective on January 1, 2008 Full compliance required by November 1, 2008 Identity Theft Prevention Programs The rules require “financial institutions” and “creditors” with “covered accounts” to implement a written Identity Theft Prevention Program to detect, prevent, and mitigate identity theft in connection with: The opening of a covered account or The existence of a covered account “Creditors” with “Covered Accounts” “Anyone who arranges for the extension, renewal or continuation of credit or any assignee of an original creditor who participates in the decision to extend, renew or continue credit.” “Creditors” with “Covered Accounts” A consumer account that “involves or is designed to permit multiple payments or transactions, such as a credit card account, mortgage loan, automobile loan, margin account, cell phone account, utility account, checking account, or savings account and “Any other account that the financial institution or creditor offers or maintains for which there is a reasonably foreseeable risk to customers or to the safety and soundness of the financial institution or creditor from identity theft, including financial, operational, compliance, reputation, or litigation risks.” The Guidelines Intended to assist financial institutions and creditors in the formulation and maintenance of a Program that satisfies the requirements of the Red Flag Rules Topics include The Identity Theft Program Identifying Relevant Red Flags Detecting Red Flags Preventing and Mitigating Identity Theft Updating the Program Methods for Administering the Program Other Applicable Legal Requirements Guideline Highlights Identifying Red Flags Categories of Red Flags Alerts, notifications, or other warnings from consumer reporting agencies or service providers, such as fraud detection services The presentation of suspicious documents The presentation of suspicious personal identifying information, such as a suspicious address change The unusual use of, or other suspicious activity related to, a covered account Notice from customers, victims of identity theft, law enforcement or others regarding possible identity theft Appendix to Rule has 26 examples for the foregoing categories. Guideline Highlights (cont’d) Procedures to detect Red Flags Verify identity Authenticate customers Monitor transactions Verify validity of address changes Guideline Highlights (cont’d) Appropriate Responses to Red Flags Monitor accounts Contact customer Change passwords Close and reopen account Refuse to open account Do not collect on or sell account Notify law enforcement No response Guideline Highlights (cont’d) Administering the Program Oversight involves Assigning specific responsibility Reviewing reports Approving material changes to Program What They’re Not Red Flags compliance v. data security Definition of “financial institution” is not same under Red Flags and Gramm Leach Bliley Act Compliance with HIPAA does not equal compliance with Red Flags FTC Activity June 2008 “FTC Business Alert” FTC set-up email for questions: RedFlags@ftc.gov Are you a financial institution or creditor? Mandatory Compliance By November 1, 2008 for: “Financial Institutions” “Creditors” that hold any consumer account or other account for which there is a reasonably foreseeable risk of identity theft Are you a “Financial Institution”? A “financial institution” is: A State or National bank A State or Federal savings and loan association A mutual savings bank A State or Federal credit union “Any other person that, directly or indirectly, holds a transaction account belonging to a consumer” 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(t) (emphasis added) Transaction Account “The term ‘transaction account’ means a deposit or account on which the depositor or account holder is permitted to make withdrawals by negotiable or transferable instrument, payment orders of withdrawal, telephone transfers, or other similar items for the purpose of making payments or transfers to third persons or others. Such term includes demand deposits, negotiable order of withdrawal accounts, savings deposits subject to automatic transfers, and share draft accounts.” 12 USCS § 461(b)(1)(C) (also known as section 19(b) of the Federal Reserve Act) Creditor FCRA says, “[t]he term…’creditor’ ha[s] the same meaning as in section 702 of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.” See 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(r)(5) Are you a “Creditor”? A “creditor” is: Any person who regularly extends, renews or continues credit Any person who regularly arranges for the extension, renewal, or continuation of credit Any assignee of an original creditor who participates in the decision to extend, renew, or continue credit 15 U.S.C. §1691a(e) (also known as the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Definitions) Step 1: Risk Assessment Do you offer or maintain “covered accounts”? How do you open “covered accounts”? How do you provide access to your accounts? What experiences do you have with identity theft? Step 2: Develop Program to Identify red flags and incorporate into Program Detect red flags included in Program Respond to red flags when detected Periodically update program to address changing risks Step 3: Administer Program by Obtaining approval of initial Program from Board or appropriate Board committee Ensuring adequate oversight Training appropriate staff Overseeing service provider agreements Message from the Federal Trade Commission “By now, the message should be clear: companies that collect sensitive consumer information have a responsibility to keep it secure.” (FTC Chairman, Deborah Platt Majoras, March 27, 2008) Using its authority under Section 5 of the FTC Act (which prohibits unfair or deceptive practices), the Commission has brought a number of cases to enforce promises in privacy statements, including promises about the security of consumers’ personal information. The Commission has also used its unfairness authority to challenge information practices that cause substantial consumer injury. Privacy Initiatives Traps for the Unwary Private Right of Action? Dissention over whether FACT Act eliminated private rights of action for all violations of § 1681m. See Perry v. First Nat. Bank, 459 F.3d 816, 820 (7th Cir. 2006). No question Congress declined to provide private right of action for violations of the red flag requirements and guidelines set forth in § 1681m(e). See id. at 821; White v. E- Loan, Inc., 409 F. Supp. 2d 1183, 1185-86 (N.D. Cal. 2006). 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(c)(3) provides that 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681n and 1681o – which establish rights of action for willful and negligent violations of the FCRA respectively – “do not apply to any violation of…subsection (e) of section 1681m of this title.” The Beverly Litigation FACTS: Named Plaintiff applied to Wal-Mart Application denied due to criminal record: He was shown as a felon when he had been convicted of a misdemeanor Others in the class were shown as felons based on records of other people with the same name but different birth dates, SSNs Inaccuracies blamed on ChoicePoint’s internal controls Beverly v. ChoicePoint, Inc. CLAIM AGAINST CHOICEPOINT: Two option for CRA that reports public record information for employment purposes: Notify the consumer “at the time such public report information is reported” Maintain “strict procedures designed to insure that [the] information . . . is complete and up to date” ChoicePoint gave notice, but not until after it had sent the reports to Wal-Mart No court decision yet Beverly v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. CLAIM AGAINST WAL-MART: Wal-Mart did not give sufficient time to dispute the erroneous information 9/1/05: ChoicePoint, on Wal-Mart’s behalf, sent notice to Beverly of contemplated adverse action This included a copy of Beverly’s criminal history report, as required by the FCRA 9/6/05: ChoicePoint, on Wal-Mart’s behalf, sent notice to Beverly of adverse action Due to Labor Day, both letters arrived on 9/7 The Beverly Litigation IRONY: Beverly called ChoicePoint on 9/7 to dispute ChoicePoint sent Wal-Mart a corrected report Wal-Mart hired Beverly Beverly v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. COURT DECISION: Court Opinion Under the FCRA, an employer must give the consumer “a reasonable period to respond” to the initial notice and consumer report Wal-Mart delegated this duty to ChoicePoint ChoicePoint did not take into account postal delays that would be caused by the holiday weekend Ultimately, Wal-Mart is responsible for that mistake Motion for summary judgment denied Beverly v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. LESSONS: FCRA imposes technical obligations on CRAs and employers Employer can delegate its duties but remains responsible Courts interpret FCRA in light of its purpose Consumers must be able to dispute inaccuracies before the report is used against them FCRA can be a trap for well-meaning and sophisticated employers Did we cover all of your questions, and/or generate new ones? For More Information Rebecca E. Kuehn Jennifer R. Rossi Assistant Director Business Litigator Division of Privacy and Identity Protection Consumer Financial Services Team Leader Federal Trade Commission Robinson & Cole LLP 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., NJ-3158 280 Trumbull Street Washington, D.C. 20580 Hartford, CT 06103-3597 202.326.2017 860.275.8355 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com www.ftc.gov www.rc.com Fair Credit Reporting Act FTC Fair Credit Reporting Act Page FTC Business Alert: New ‘Red Flag’ Requirements for Financial Institutions and Creditors Will Help Fight Identity Theft Any additional questions please ask.
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