For immediate release
September 9, 2003
Janell Mayo Duncan, 202-462-6262
Rob Schneider, 512-477-4431
(WASHINGTON, DC) — Despite a new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report that more than 27 million Americans fell victim to identity theft in the past five years, the U.S. House of Representatives is poised Wednesday (Sept 10) to approve a financial industry-backed bill that not only fails to take new steps to prevent ID theft and protect consumers from inaccurate credit information, but would gut state laws that protect consumers from this $53 billion a year crime.
HR 2622 the “Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act,” would permanently block most state credit and privacy laws. Eight states would likely see their identity theft reforms undermined by the measure, including California, which last month approved a groundbreaking credit privacy law which allows consumers to control whether banks, credit card agencies others can share their credit histories and personal information with affiliates and other companies.
“This bill represents a wish list for the financial industry while sacrificing meaningful consumer protection laws that have been adopted by states like California,” said Rob Schneider, director of Consumers Union’s www.FinancialPrivacyNow.org Project. “At a time when millions of Americans are falling victim to identity theft, we urge lawmakers in Washington to reject this misguided proposal.”
The House measure fails to provide such basic protections as:
Giving victims of identity theft the right to freeze access to their credit file in order to stop additional harm to their good names by identity thieves
Requiring business to notify consumers anytime computerized data is improperly accessed through a security breach
Giving consumers the right to stop the sharing of their private financial information among thousands of corporate affiliates and other companies
Requiring credit grantors to match four points of identification – like name, address, social security number, and date of birth, for example – before extending credit in order to thwart identity thieves
Give consumers the right to take action against creditors who provide inaccurate information to credit reporting agencies
Allow consumers to obtain the actual copy of any credit report used to deny them credit or charge them higher interest rates
“There is still time for Congress to amend the bill to include these vital reforms,” says Janell Mayo Duncan, legislative and regulatory counsel for Consumers Union. “Consumers and their good credit are the lifeblood of our nation, and the financial services industry should support safeguards that protect their customers and themselves.”
States whose laws would be jeopardized by HR 2622 are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Texas and Virginia. For more information on these states consumer credit laws, go to: http://www.consumersunion.org/campaigns/financialprivacynow/learn.html