The Blog of Legal Times is reporting that late on December 7, 2010 the House of Representatives passed a bill on a voice vote that amends the definition of "creditor" in the Fair and Accurate Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and, as a result, dramatically limits the scope of the Red Flags Rule. The House bill is identical to the legislation enacted by the Senate last week. We previously covered in detail on our blog both the House bill and the Senate bill.The legislation has the effect of largely limiting the applicability of the Red Flags Rule to financial institutions and entities commonly understood to be "creditors". It will generally exclude from the Rule's scope organizations whose "credit" activities are limited to providing a product or service and allowing customers to pay for the product or service at a later time. The legislation leaves open the possibility that the FTC would bring various types of creditors within the scope of the Rule through rulemaking. However, it sets a procedural threshold for expanding the scope of the Rule and appears to require the determination to be specific to the type of creditor. "When I think of the word 'creditor,' dentists, accounting firms and law firms do not come to mind," said Rep. John Adler (D-N.J.), speaking on the House floor.
Last week, the U.S. Senate adopted by unanimous consent a bill (S. 3987) that would limit the scope of the Federal Trade Commission's Red Flags Rule by amending the Fair Credit Reporting Act's (FCRA's) definition of "creditor." The Senate bill is identical to the bipartisan House proposal we covered in detail in our blog on November 22, 2010.Both bills have been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. Given that the House and Senate are now on the same page with respect to the Red Flags Rule, there is a good chance that this proposal will become law before the FTC begins enforcing the Rule on December 31, 2010. The bills seek to largely limit the applicability of the Red Flags Rule to entities commonly understood to be "creditors". They would generally exclude from the Rule's scope organizations whose "credit" activities are limited to providing a product or service and allowing customers to pay for the product or service at a later time.
The Federal Trade Commission's latest delay in enforcing the Identity Theft Red Flags Rule is slated to expire on December 31, 2010. This fifth delay, which the FTC announced on May 28, 2010, was requested by members of Congress, who had been working to respond to the outcry over the FTC's broad interpretation of the Rule. In the latest legislative initiative, on November 17, 2010, representatives Adler (D-NJ), Broun (R-GA) and Simpson (R-IN) advanced a bill (HR 6420) that seeks to limit the scope of the FTC's Red Flags Rule by amending the Fair Credit Reporting Act's (FRCA's) definition of "creditor."
As previously reported here, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently scheduled to commence enforcement of the FACTA Red Flags Rule (72 Fed. Reg. 63,718) on June 1, 2010. On Friday, only 10 days before the deadline, the American Medical Association, the American Osteopathic Association, and the Medical Society for the District of Columbia filed suit against the FTC in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (AMA v. FTC, D.D.C., No. 1:10-cv-00843), following in the footsteps of similar lawsuits filed in the past year by the American Bar Association (ABA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The ABA, in a lawsuit filed last August (ABA v. FTC, No. 1:09-cv-01636-RBW), succeeded in obtaining an order (now on appeal) barring the FTC from enforcing the Red Flags Rule against lawyers. (There has been no ruling on the AICPA complaint filed last November.) Following is a discussion of the definitions ("creditor" and "credit") at the heart of the dispute, a summary of the positions taken by the FTC and the AMA with respect to application of the Red Flags Rule to physicians, and a brief review of the court's decision in ABA v. FTC.