Consumers are apprehensive about the security of their personal information and recent headlines about data breaches have moved the needle substantially on the -ometer that measures such things. As a business executive, your customers and employees may be coming to you with questions. Here are answers from the FTC about two topics on consumers’ minds: fraud alerts and credit freezes.
Blog Posts Tagged with Credit Reporting
It’s the thread that connects Alexandre Dumas’ The Man in the Iron Mask, the title character in The Talented Mr. Ripley, Don Draper’s back story in Mad Men – and an event scheduled for May 24, 2017, at the FTC.
It’s identity theft.
If your company gets background information on prospective employees, it’s likely you’re covered by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Before you get a background screening report, the law requires that you make certain disclosures and get a prospective employee’s authorization. Is it time for a FCRA compliance check?
Need to verify an applicant's employment or income history? Checking to see if a candidate has a criminal history or civil judgments?
If you get information from a company that compiles it so you can make eligibility determinations, you must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). That means no double-dipping. If you get a consumer report for one purpose, don’t use it for a different purpose.
Do you ever hear from customers or employees who want you to know that they’ve been affected by identity theft? If so, you’ll probably start seeing them use the new FTC Identity Theft Report. It tells you that someone important to your business is a crime victim, has alerted law enforcement, and is working to resolve the financial and emotional disruption that identity theft causes.
As the old saying goes, “The job’s not finished until the paperwork is done.” But since the enactment of the FTC’s Disposal Rule, the job’s not finished until the paperwork – in this case, consumer reports or information derived from them – is securely destroyed.
If you’d like details about how the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act was amended to recalculate penalties using a formula based on the percentage by which the Department of Labor’s October 2015 Consumer Price Index exceeds the Index for October in the year in which the penalty was enacted or last adjusted by law, the FTC has issued a Federal Register Notice explaining it.
Remember the old ad, “It’s a breath mint. It’s a candy mint. It’s two, two, two mints in one”? Or maybe the Saturday Night Live takeoff, “It’s a dessert topping and a floor wax!” It’s not unusual for something to do double duty. And if you’re in the business of compiling background information for employment purposes, you’re not just a background screening company. Chances are you’re also a consumer reporting agency subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
In the words of movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn, “An oral contract isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.” If your company provides information about consumers to credit bureaus, the law requires that you have written policies in place regarding the accuracy and integrity of that data. But are your policies worth the paper they’re printed on? That’s one of the issues presented in an FTC settlement with Dallas-based debt collector Credit Protection Association.
Usually a Top 10 list is something industries are delighted to find themselves on. So we’ll call this one a Flop 10 list, the FTC’s annual report about consumer complaints added in 2015 to the Consumer Sentinel database. How did your industry – and your state – rank in reported complaints?
First, the box score:
At the Federal Trade Commission, we’ve been very public about how we feel about privacy: we want consumers to enjoy the benefits of innovation in the marketplace, confident that their personal information – online and offline – is being handled responsibly.
Why is it your business if identity theft victims can get free personal recovery plans and other help that makes it easier for them to report and recover from identity theft? Here’s an answer: Because it’s good business – for you, your customers, your employees, and your community.
For a while now, pundits have been talking about the three V’s of big data: Volume – the vast quantity of information that can be gathered and analyzed; Velocity – the speed with which companies can accumulate, analyze, and use new data; and Variety – the breadth of data companies can analyze effectively.
Two people walk into a deli and both order a pastrami on rye. When the check arrives, one is charged $8. The other is surprised to get a bill for $15.99. That’s not the start of an old Henny Youngman joke. It’s an analogy that raises some of the issues in the FTC’s proposed $2.95 million settlement with Sprint for allegedly charging customers with lower credit scores a monthly fee without giving them the proper up-front notice required by law.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act isn’t just about credit. If your company uses background checks in making personnel decisions, the FTC reminds you of your obligations under the FCRA. In honor of Throwback Thursday, here’s an unconventional old-school summary of key requirements under federal law. Spin the mirrored disco ball and join us on the dance floor for “F-C-R-A.”
Does your company use background checks in evaluating job applicants? If so, are you complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s notice, consent, and disclosure requirements? A closing letter the FTC staff sent to California Health & Wellness elaborates on the applicability – or, in this instance, the inapplicability – of a narrow FCRA exception.
Maybe it’s a suspicious tax document flagged by your HR staff or a customer concern about an unauthorized charge. Identity theft can reveal itself in many ways. Regardless of the tip-off, there’s a new one-stop federal resource – IdentityTheft.gov – to help people report and recover from ID theft.
As the name suggests, Green Tree Servicing was supposed to service homeowners’ mortgages by collecting and crediting monthly payments. But according to a $63 million settlement announced by the FTC and CFPB, rather than service, Green Tree gave many homeowners the business.
If you handle personnel matters for your company, Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know should be on your desk. The joint FTC-EEOC publication offers dos and don’ts for businesses when looking into the background of prospective employees or current staff up for promotion, retention, transfer, etc. But if it’s time for a compliance double-check, the FTC just issued a new brochure that could serve as a cross-reference.