House Clears FCRA Extension, ID Theft Bill 392-30
By an overwhelming bi-partisan vote, the House passed H.R. 2622, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act, that makes permanent the uniform national credit reporting standards in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and provides new tools for consumers and small businesses to combat identify theft.
This landmark legislation will preclude individual states from adopting their own credit reporting rules, ensuring that consumers will continue to have equal access to the credit system regardless of where they live. If the standards had been allowed to expire on December 30, it would have severely disrupted our nation's credit system, and dealt a costly blow to the fragile economy.
The bill also creates new tools to help consumers and small businesses fight the rapidly growing threat of identify theft, which, according to a Federal Trade Commission report, affects nearly 10 million Americans yearly at a cost of more than $50 billion. Some of the new consumer tools in the bill include:
New requirements on financial institutions include:
- Giving consumers a free copy of their credit reports each year, and allowing them to see their credit scores.
- Limiting access to certain medical information.
- Allowing consumers to place "fraud alerts" in their credit reports to block identity thieves from opening accounts in their names.
- Simplifying the way consumers can restrict unsolicited marketing calls and access the new consumer protection devices.
- Notifying consumers before submitting negative credit information to a credit bureau.
- Truncating credit card numbers on electronic receipts.
- Developing policies and procedures to identify potential instances of ID theft.
- Requiring financial institutions to reconcile conflicting consumer address information.
A provision adopted in committee that would require furnishers of credit information, rather than credit bureaus, to reconcile consumer disputes concerning information in their credit files, was modified on the House floor to allow furnishers to reject frivolous or irrelevant disputes.
Other amendments adopted by the House include a Ney (R-OH) amendment to establish national standards with regard to the free credit reports, and a Frank (D-MA) amendment to ensure that the free credit report requirement also applies to regional credit reporting agencies.
The bill now goes to the Senate. At press time, Senate Banking Committee chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) had just issued his draft FCRA bill, which is similar to the House-passed bill except for one provision on affiliate sharing. Chairman Shelby may mark up the bill as soon as Thursday, September 18.