FTC Business Alert
Disposing of Consumer Report Information? New Rule Tells How
In an effort to protect the privacy of consumer information and reduce the risk of fraud and identity theft, a new federal rule is requiring businesses to take appropriate measures to dispose of sensitive information derived from consumer reports.
Any business or individual who uses a consumer report for a business purpose is subject to the requirements of the Disposal Rule. The Disposal Rule requires the proper disposal of information in consumer reports and records to protect against “unauthorized access to or use of the information.” The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the Disposal Rule.
According to the FTC, the standard for the proper disposal of information derived from a consumer report is flexible, and allows the organizations and individuals covered by the Rule to determine what measures are reasonable based on the sensitivity of the information, the costs and benefits of different disposal methods, and changes in technology.
Although the Disposal Rule applies to consumer reports and the information derived from consumer reports, the FTC encourages those who dispose of any records containing a consumer’s personal or financial information to take similar protective measures.
Who must comply?
The Disposal Rule applies to people and both large and small organizations that use consumer reports. Among those who must comply with the Disposal Rule are:
What information does the Disposal Rule cover?
The Disposal Rule applies to consumer reports or information derived from consumer reports. The Fair Credit Reporting Act defines the term consumer report to include information obtained from a consumer reporting company that is used – or expected to be used – in establishing a consumer’s eligibility for credit, employment, or insurance, among other purposes. Credit reports and credit scores are consumer reports. So are reports businesses or individuals receive with information relating to employment background, check writing history, insurance claims, residential or tenant history, or medical history.
What is 'proper' disposal ?
The Disposal Rule requires disposal practices that are reasonable and appropriate to prevent the unauthorized access to – or use of – information in a consumer report. For example, reasonable measures for disposing of consumer report information could include establishing and complying with policies to:
Due diligence could include:
The FTC says that financial institutions that are subject to both the Disposal Rule and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) Safeguards Rule should incorporate practices dealing with the proper disposal of consumer information into the information security program that the Safeguards Rule requires http://ftc.gov/privacy/privacyinitiatives/safeguards.html.
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, which was enacted in 2003, directed 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 adopt comparable and consistent rules regarding the disposal of sensitive consumer report information. The FTC’s Disposal Rule became effective June 1, 2005. It was published in the Federal Register on November 24, 2004 [69 Fed. Reg. 68,690], and is available at http://ftc.gov/os/2004/11/041118disposalfrn.pdf.
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 consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. 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.