Red Flag Compliance Deadline Extended

The Federal Trade Commission announced that “creditors” will not have to worry about fines associated with non compliance with Red Flag Rules until May 1st 2009. A creditor is defined as any entity that extends, renews, or continues credit and any entity that regularly arranges for the extension, renewal, or continuation of credit. For example, mortgage brokers, utility companies and automobile dealers are classified as creditors.

This decision to extend is said to be largely due to complaints from creditors that they were unaware of the existence of the new regulation and some say they only found out after the deadline had passed. This deadline according to the official press release only applies to organizations that are not under the jurisdiction of any of the other regulatory agencies other than the Federal Trade Commission. FACTA requires financial institutions and creditors to implement a written identity theft prevention program that should help detect identity theft, hopefully before any damage is done. If identity theft is not detected, the regulation calls for the financial institution or the creditor to reduce the risk to the consumer and the organization.

Many creditors have complained that there is not a clear-cut way of indicating how they will be audited, and it has not been indicated how penalties will be assessed. The FTC Enforcement Policy now clearly defines all the parameters for creditors to follow. Going forward there will be no question that if you fit into the category of “creditor” you will be required to comply with Red Flag Rules. Still many organizations feel they are flying under the radar or won’t be caught. What does a company have to gain by allowing identity theft to occur?

Rules to be followed range from watching for suspicious social security numbers that may be on the Security Administration’s Death Master File to suspicious, or repeated, address or phone number tracking. Plain and simple, following Red Flag Rules will reduce identity theft and every business should want to participate in keeping our personal information safe.

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