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FTC Officially Announces Support to 2003 FCRA Fix

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  • Jimmie Mesis
    Greetings, Robert Townsend of NALI and I were invited to Washington, DC last week at the request of the FTC to hear Director Beales testify before the Banking,
    Message 1 of 1 , May 20, 2003
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      Robert Townsend of NALI and I were invited to Washington, DC last week at the request of the FTC to hear Director Beales testify before the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. However, his testimony had to be rescheduled. Fortunately, Robert and I were then invited to meet with Andy Smith, Esq. (you may recall he was a keynote speaker at the NALI conference in Savannah representing the FTC and Chairman Muris) and Bethany E. Matz, Esq., FTC Division of Financial Practices. Both graciously carved out and spent an active two hours of their time to discuss our concerns about the FCRA and a wide range of other topics, including GLB. Robert and I then spent two days lobbying our congressional representatives in person seeking their support to co-sponsor H.R. 1543.

      Howard Beales, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection did testify this afternoon on the FCRA before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. His complete testimony can be read at:

      In his testimony, Beales highlighted the need for a "legislative remedy" to the FCRA with regard to investigative consumer reports. Beales noted that...

      "The 1996 (FCRA) amendments expanded the obligations of certain users of consumer reports. In the employment context, these changes were quite significant; they include requirements that an employer obtain the consent of a job applicant or current employee before obtaining a consumer report and, before taking adverse action based on the report, provide a copy of it to the individual." (48)

      (48) Because the new employer obligations imposed by the 1996 amendments apply also to investigative consumer reports and Congress removed a prior exemption for use of investigative reports in certain employment circumstances, employers may encounter difficulties when using outside entities to assist by preparing reports based on interviews in investigations of alleged workplace misconduct. Concerns arose because such investigations might be hampered by FCRA obligations, such as the
      requirement that an employer obtain the authorization of an employee before obtaining a consumer report, and the requirement that the employee be provided a copy of the report before the employer can take adverse action. Several Congressional proposals to amend the FCRA to meet the workplace investigation concerns have been introduced. In 2000, the Commission commented (see http://www.ftc.gov/os/2000/03/ltrpitofskysessions.htm) and testified with respect to one such proposal
      (see http://www.ftc.gov/os/2000/05/fcratestimony.htm). The Commission remains of the opinion that a legislative remedy of the type endorsed by the Commission in 2000 is the most appropriate response to these concerns.

      Congressman Pete Sessions was responsible for introducing the legislation referenced in 2000, and he should be commended for once again sponsoring and re-introducing H.R. 1543.

      It is important that we all continue to write and visit our congressional representatives and ask for them to co-sponsor H.R. 1543. Our cause is gaining much needed support, but there is much more that needs to be done. I will keep you updated as news develops.

      Keep writing, calling, faxing, and emailing your representatives.

      It's all in the "numbers."
      Jimmie Mesis, LPI
      NCISS - Region 2 Director
      NALI - Legislative Committee

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