FTC Seeks Comments on Proposed Consumer Information and Records Disposal Regulation

For Release

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on a proposed rule regarding the proper disposal of consumer report information and records under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). FACTA, which was enacted on December 4, 2003, amends the FCRA and directs the FTC, the Federal Reserve Board, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of Thrift Supervision, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission to coordinate with one another to adopt comparable and consistent rules regarding the disposal of sensitive consumer report information. Comments on the proposed rule must be received on or before June 15, 2004. At the close of the comment period, the Commission will review the comments, modify the proposed rule as appropriate, and issue the rule as final.

The proposed Disposal Rule’s purpose is to reduce the risk of consumer fraud, including identity theft, created by improper disposal of any record that is, or is derived from, a consumer report. To further this objective, the proposed Rule requires that any person that possesses or maintains covered consumer information “take reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized access to or use of the information in connection with its disposal.” The proposed standard for disposal is flexible to allow covered persons to make decisions appropriate to their particular circumstances. The FTC expects that entities subject to the proposed Rule will make decisions about what measures are reasonable based on the sensitivity of the information at issue, the costs and benefits of different disposal methods, and relevant technological changes. The proposed Rule’s flexible standard also is intended to minimize the burden of compliance for smaller entities. Additionally, the proposed Rule includes specific examples of disposal measures that would satisfy the standards set out in the Rule.

The Commission is seeking comment on all aspects of the proposed rule. Specifically, the FTC invites comment on: (1) the costs and benefits of the proposed standard; (2) the costs and benefits of any alternative standards; (3) the appropriateness and usefulness of providing examples in the Rule of reasonable record disposal measures; and (4) the merits of the examples included in the Federal Register notice, as well as any other standards or examples that the Commission might consider to provide guidance on appropriate record disposal.

Comments can be filed electronically at http://www.regulations.gov. Commentors should select “Federal Trade Commission” at “Search for Open Regulations,” locate the summary of the notice, click on “Submit a Comment on this Regulation,” and complete the form. Written comments should refer to “The FACT Act Disposal Rule, R-411007 ” on both the envelope and the text, and should be mailed to the following address: Federal Trade Commission/Office of the Secretary, Room H-159 (Annex H), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Comments containing confidential material must be filed in paper form. Due to heightened security precautions, the FTC requests that any paper comments be sent by courier or overnight service, as U.S. postal mail is subject to delay. Written comments must be received on or before June 15, 2004.

The Commission vote approving publication of the Federal Register notice was 5-0.

Copies of the Federal Register Notice 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. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

(FTC File No. R411007)

Additional Contact Information

Media Contact:
Jen Schwartzman
Office of Public Affairs
Staff Contact:
Ellen Finn or Jessica Rich
Bureau of Consumer Protection