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Act can help you fight identity theft, protect your privacy

Imagine that some unscrupulous bank employee took your credit report, complete with your Social Security number, and started applying for credit cards in your name.

So you put a fraud alert on your credit file, warning companies not to issue credit. But one ignored it and issued another card to the identity thief.

Then imagine that when you got the bills from the thief's latest shopping spree, you contacted the bank that issued the card, but the bank wouldn't give you any information.

All those scenarios would have played out differently under the new Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, which provides more tools to fight identity theft and protect consumers' privacy.

Under the law, you can request that not all of your Social Security number appear on your credit file. Also, it will be illegal for companies to ignore a fraud alert.

And every identity theft victim who files a police report can get transaction records from businesses where a thief opened accounts or bought things in his or her name.

"Before this law passed, a consumer did not have the right to obtain records where the thief used their name," said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer organization in Washington, D.C. "Before the business would say: 'How do we know you're not a fraudster? We can't give you records you say aren't yours.' Now they have to."

The FACT Act makes sweeping changes and additions to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which governs the accuracy and privacy of the information used in credit reports. The new act adds several provisions to combat identity theft and to enhance accuracy and consumer access to credit information. The changes affect insurers, lenders, collection agencies, employers, rental agencies and all companies that use, compile and furnish information for consumer reports.

[FULL STORY]

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on February 26, 2004 at 02:10 PM | Permalink

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