Fact Act of 2003: Requirements for Handling Credit Reports and Protecting Against Identity Theft

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The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) of 2003 amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970, adding new regulations that became effective in 2008, which directly impact National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) members who have affiliated businesses and those involved in the handling of credit reports. The FACT Act requires several federal agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, to issue joint regulations and guidelines aimed at detecting, preventing, and mitigating identity theft.

The Identity Theft Red Flags and Address Discrepancy Rules, as part of the FACT Act, require all users of credit reports to take specific actions in the event of an address discrepancy being noted on a credit report. Furthermore, the rules mandate all creditors, including those that regularly arrange for credit to be provided, to establish policies and procedures to safeguard against identity theft. As a result, NAR members who use credit reports are affected by these regulations.

On November 9, 2007, all of the Federal banking agencies and the FTC published the final rules as part of a joint rule-making process. The mandatory compliance date for the Identity Theft Red Flag Guidelines was November 1, 2008. This change in regulations is a crucial step in promoting security and privacy in the handling of background reports, thereby safeguarding the interests of NAR members and their clients.

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