ACA Comments: Balance is Needed in FTC Identity Theft Rules

Debt collectors and data furnishers need minimum proof of identity theft claims to help consumers and their clients.

2/11/2019 10:30 AM

ACA Comments: Balance is Needed in FTC Identity Theft Rules

Identity theft rules under review by the Federal Trade Commission may have a negative impact on companies in the accounts receivable management industry without requirements in place for consumers to provide proof of identity theft claims.

ACA International filed comments on the rules with the FTC Feb. 6.

The accounts receivable management industry is indirectly subject to the components of the identity theft rules as vendors to covered entities—including financial institutions, creditors and credit reporting agencies (CRAs) —are required to comply.

As vendors, ACA members have been required to develop extensive robust policies and procedures to ensure that every claim for identity theft is fully vetted and investigated and information is passed on to clients.

In many cases, an alleged claim of identity theft is enough to force a company to close a file to remain in compliance with identity theft rules.

If a consumer asserts a claim of identity theft, it can halt the collection process as the claim is treated as a dispute under the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act.

For ACA members who are also data furnishers to CRAs under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the statute clearly mandates the duties and responsibilities for furnishers of data when they learn from a consumer that they are a victim of identity theft; the statute further mandates that a consumer must provide the data furnisher with a copy of an identity theft report. Under those circumstances, a data furnisher may not furnish information to a CRA regarding the fraudulent account or debt.

“ACA members see an inequity in this process,” said Leah Dempsey, ACA’s vice president and senior counsel, federal advocacy. “While ACA and its members are fully committed to ensure that victims of identity theft are provided the relief they deserve, a better balance is needed.”

Given the indirect impact of these rules on debt collectors, ACA encourages the FTC to consider ways for consumers to cooperate when claims of identity theft are alleged without creating burdensome obligations to prove the theft occurred.

Read ACA’s complete comments to the FTC here.

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