Issuance of joint FTC/Federal Reserve Board staff letter: The Commission staff and the staff of Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board) have issued a joint letter regarding the interim final rules recently approved by the FTC and the Board to establish effective dates under the Fairness and Accurate Transactions Act of 2003 (FACT Act). The letter, which was sent to the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group on December 23, 2003, is now available on the Commission’s Web site as a link to this press release. It addresses the three organizations’ concerns that, if the effective date for the preemption provisions of section 711(2) of the FACT Act and certain other provisions is December 31, 2003, state laws to protect consumers against the harms of identity theft would appear to be preempted, while the corresponding federal protections would not yet be in effect.
According to the FTC/Board staff letter, however, the agencies believe that the joint interim final rules do not compel the result raised as a concern by the groups. In the letter, the agencies’ staffs write that “in our view, the joint interim final rules . . . do not speak to how or when the preemption provisions added to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) will apply and do not alter the relationship between these newly enacted provisions and state laws in these areas. The joint rules are based on our opinion that the specific protections afforded under the FCRA override state laws only when the referenced federal provisions that require conduct by the affected persons are in effect.”
Further, the letter states that “. . . because the substantive federal provisions actually will become effective at different times, from six months to three years after the FACT Act was enacted, establishing December 31, 2003 as the effective date for the preemption provision would allow the state law to continue in effect until the respective federal protections come into effect.” (The staff contacts are Katherine Armstrong or Christopher Keller, 202-326-3224; see related press release dated December 16, 2003.)
Commission approval of interim consent order: The Commission has approved an interim consent order in the pending matter concerning Chicago Bridge & Iron Company’s (CB&I) acquisition of certain assets of Pitt-Des Moines, Inc (PDM). The interim order, which is subject to public comment, stipulates that CB&I cannot alter in any way the assets acquired from PDM subsequent to February 7, 2001, except “in the ordinary course of business or for ordinary wear and tear.” Included among these assets are: 1) all real property gained in the acquisition; 2) all personal property, including machinery and equipment; 3) all inventories, stores, and supplies; 4) all rights under any contract; 5) all intellectual property; 6) all governmental authorizations; 7) all rights under warrantees or guarantees; 8) all items of prepaid expense; and 9) all books, records, and files relating to the acquisition.
The order also states that if CB&I wishes to dispose of any assets at its Provo, Utah facility, it must notify the Secretary of the FTC, complaint counsel, and the Commission’s Compliance Division at least 60 days before taking such an action. It further orders CB&I to take steps to notify employees at the Provo facility that it has no plans to close the facility. The Commission vote to approve issuance of the interim order was 5-0. It is subject to public comment until January 15, 2004, after which the FTC will determine whether to make it final. Comments should be sent to: FTC, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20580. (FTC Docket No. 9300; see press releases dated October 25, 2001 and June 27, 2003.)
Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.