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Groups Urging Senate to Support Feinstein/Boxer Amendment

October 14, 2003

Please Support the Feinstein/Boxer Amendment
to the Fair Credit Reporting Act

Dear Senator:
Current law, as well as the “National Consumer Credit Reporting System Improvement Act of 2003” that was recently reported out of the Senate Banking Committee, permits unrestricted affiliate sharing of consumers’ most sensitive financial information. This practice leaves consumers vulnerable to identity theft, unwanted marketing, discrimination and fraud. As the Senate considers reauthorizing the privacy provisions in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, we urge you to support the Feinstein/Boxer amendment which limits sharing of personal information among affiliates of financial institutions.
Information sharing enables financial institutions to profile an individual’s spending habits and payment histories in order to make discriminatory decisions about credit and insurance products and services. Consumers can wind up paying higher rates or be denied insurance, credit and other financial services. We believe the practice of allowing unauthorized sharing of personal information among affiliated companies represents a fundamental invasion of consumers’ privacy.
While the pending “National Consumer Credit Reporting System Improvement Act of 2003” allows consumers to opt-out of marketing efforts by affiliates, the bill fails to give them any control regarding whether this financial information can be shared among company affiliates for other purposes. Furthermore, the bill jeopardizes the ability of states to enhance consumer privacy protections beyond the Federal level by prohibiting states from enacting stronger safeguards.
Consumers deserve more control over the distribution of their personal financial information. As the FCRA reform legislation moves to the Senate floor, we urge you to support the Feinstein/Boxer amendment as a meaningful step forward in enhancing the privacy protections of all Americans.
Consumers Union