San Diego, CA. The Federal Trade
Commission is close to proposing rules under the Fair and
Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) regarding further
definition of the terms 'identity theft'
'identity theft report,' and the appropriate proof of
identity needed by consumers to block fraudulent
trade lines in their consumer reports, place or remove
fraud or active duty alerts, or obtain a file
disclosure containing a truncated Social Security number
under certain circumstances.
FACTA, which was enacted on December 4, 2003, and amends
the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), gives identity theft
victims new rights to place 'fraud alerts' on their credit
reports and work with creditors and credit bureaus to
'block' negative information appearing in their credit
files as a result of identity theft. These new rules can't
come fast enough.
According to a recent online study conducted by
InsightExpress.com, Americans are very concerned
about identity theft and looking for more guidance (mainly
from banks, credit unions and credit card
issuers) on how they should protect themselves.
"Three out of five consumers are telling us that banks are
not doing enough to educate them on how to
protect against identity theft, as most are learning about
it through television commercials and/or news
reports," said Lee Smith, president and chief operating
officer of InsightExpress.
"Credit card issuers and primary banks stand a better
chance of capturing and retaining customers if
they take a more proactive approach in educating and
protecting consumers against the threat."
The study found that 15% of Americans have been a victims
of identity theft with one-third having had a friend or
family member victimized. The survey also found that 42%
of Americans have a higher level of concern over the
possibility of identity theft this year than last, while
almost three out of five, 59% are actively taking measures
to protect themselves.
A majority of Americans, 85%, are concerned that identity
theft could happen to them, and a major
source of concern is credit card purchases, the study
found. Americans say the online purchasing
environment carries the greatest risk of identity theft,
37%, followed by telephone purchases, 35%, and in-person
Some of the measures Americans are taking to protect
themselves, according to InsightExpress, are not
giving out their social security number, shedding or
destroying bank documents, creating passwords
containing letters and numbers, avoiding buying or making
donations over the phone and only making
online purchases from reputable websites.
In terms of liabilities, almost half, about 48%, expect
that they would be at least partially responsible
for charges made on their credit card should they become a
victim. Almost three out of five, 58%, say
the person who stole the credit card is responsible,
followed by the institution who issues the card,
33%, the institution who approves the credit card charge,
29%, and the merchants, 26%, according to
An identity theft risk study by Rutgers University has
preliminary data to date indicating that checking
a credit report is the least frequently performed practice
and that there is no difference between
respondents from states that mandate free credit reports
currently and others. Folks involved with the
study caution that the findings come from a small
convenience sample of Web users and can't be widely
generalized to the U.S. population as a whole.
Either way it seems that there is a lot of education to be
done about credit reports and how to get them
free under FACTA.
Is it identity theft or unauthorized use of a credit card?
The Commission proposes that 'identity theft' be defined
as a fraud which is committed or attempted,
using a person's identifying information without lawful
authority and that 'identifying information'
have the same meaning as the criminal statute's 'means of
identification.' Consumers need to use
'identity theft reports' to obtain an extended fraud alert
on their credit file and to block negative
information resulting from identity theft from appearing
in their credit files. In other words if
someone just uses a credit card account to make an
unauthorized purchase, and does not attempt to
create an identity for themselves using your name, it is
not going to be considered identity theft but
To prevent misuse of identity theft reports for credit
repair scams, the FTC proposes to add two
elements to the definition of 'identity theft report.'
First, the proposal would require that consumers
allege the identity theft as specifically as possible, and
second, would allow credit bureaus or creditors
to request, within reasonable bounds, additional
information or documentation to help them determine
if identity theft actually occurred.
Finally, it addresses what constitutes 'appropriate proof
of identity' to block a fraudulent trade line,
place or remove a fraud alert, or obtain a file disclosure
containing a truncated Social Security number.
The proposed rule would require credit bureaus to develop
'reasonable requirements' to ensure that
consumers are matched with their files and to adjust what
information is requested to prevent
identifiable risks of harm. The FTC suggests, using two
examples, that the 'requirements' for a file
match may entail full name, full address, full Social
Security number, and/or date of birth, and for
additional proof of identity, copies of government-issued
identification documents, utility bills, and
other current authentication methods such as answering
questions only the consumer would know.
A great resource for determining one's risk to becoming a
victim of identity theft is the quick Identity
Theft Risk Assessment Quiz put online by the Cooperative
Extension at Rutgers University. It is 20
questions plus some demographic data questions. The quiz
gives a quick score and suggestions for
Try it out at:
The ICFE's Credit Report Reviewer Certification Program
2004 on the new FACTA law, has a
major focus on identity theft, including prevention,
detection and correction and also offers a
certificate as an Identity Theft Prevention Specialist.
For more information contact Paul S. Richard - ICFE
Executive Director 619-239-1401
or visit the ICFE @
About the ICFE:
The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation). The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely.
The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.
The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.The ICFE was an active partner in the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) which resulted in a new web site: (studentdebthelp.org). CASDRAP disbanded in 2010, shortly after the web site project was completed. In 2011 the ICFE assumed the single sponsorship of the (studentdebthelp.org) web site and is now responsible for its content and operation.
The ICFE is also an on-line help for consumers who spend too much. ICFE's spending help was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.
Visit the ICFE's other web sites at: www.financial-education-icfe.org and studentdebthelp.org. Both sites helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G, a free eNews, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools and a book store.
About the ICFE:
The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE), founded in 1982 by the
late Loren Dunton (creator of the 'certified financial planner' (CFP)
designation) and it is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve
their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely. The ICFE trains and
certifies Personal Finance Instructors for its own curriculum. It also trains
and certifies Credit Report Reviewers and Identity Theft Prevention Specialists.
The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that
has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It
publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, now in its 16th
printing and has distributed over one million 'Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels'
and 'Credit/Debit Card Sleeves' world wide.
The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial
Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.
The ICFE is also a partner in the national Jump$tart Coalition for Financial
Literacy and the California Jump$tart chapter. The ICFE staff is also active
with San Diego Saves, an offshoot of America Saves, and the California Student
Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) (studentdebthelp.org).
The ICFE's on-line help for consumers who spend too much was featured in PARADE
Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from
'The Money Instruction Book,' a course in personal finance, positioned to become
among the premier programs in the new bankruptcy and debtor education
The ICFE Web site at:
www.financial-education-icfe.org helps consumers with mending spending, learning about
the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and
implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and
videos and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include a free
eNews, and an online resource center of financial education learning
tools, including videos, books, software and personal finance courses.