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On March 10, the Virginia governor signed HB 509, which amends certain statutory provisions related to fees for security freezes on credit reports. Currently, a credit reporting agency (CRA) may charge a fee of not more than $5 when a consumer or his representative requests a security freeze on his credit report, though victims of identity theft are exempt from this fee. HB 509 prohibits CRAs from charging a fee for credit report freezes, regardless of whether the request comes from a victim of identity theft. The amendments take effect on July 1.
On January 10, the Massachusetts Governor signed HB 4806, following the House and Senate’s adoption of amendments to the bill. The bill, which is effective April 10, amends current law related to security breaches and the protection of consumer financial and credit information. Among other provisions, the amendments to the current law:
- Prohibit users from requesting or obtaining the consumer credit report of a consumer unless the user obtains the consumer’s prior written, verbal, or electronic consent, and discloses the user's reason for accessing the consumer report to the consumer prior to obtaining consent.
- Require every consumer reporting agency to disclose to consumers, when properly identified, (i) the nature, contents, and substance of all information on file (except medical information) at the time of the request; (ii) the sources of all credit information; and (iii) “the recipients of any consumer report on the consumer which it has furnished for employment purposes within the 2-year period preceding the request, and for any other purpose within the 6-month period preceding the request.”
- State that a consumer reporting agency may not charge a fee to any consumer for placing, lifting, or removing a security freeze from a consumer report.
- Specify that a consumer reporting agency may not “knowingly offer a paid product to prevent unauthorized access or restrict access to a consumer's credit.”
- Require persons who experience a security breach to report specific information to the state Attorney General, as well as certify that their credit monitoring services are in compliance.
- State that consumers shall receive notice provisions in the event of a breach of security, including the right to obtain police reports, steps for requesting a security freeze, and various mitigation services.
- Require persons who experience a breach that compromises social security numbers to provide at least 18 months of free credit monitoring for affected individuals.
On September 21, the FTC announced the nationwide availability of free security freezes and one-year fraud alerts, which were authorized under the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (EGRRCPA). Specifically, Section 301 of EGRRCPA prohibits a national credit reporting agency from charging a fee to place, remove, or temporarily lift a security freeze. The law also allows parents to obtain a free credit freeze for any of their children who are under 16, and guardians, conservators, and those with a valid power of attorney can obtain a free freeze for the person for whom they have legal authority to act. Additionally, Section 301 extends the duration of the free fraud alert from 90 days to one year. Consumers are required to contact all three nationwide credit reporting agencies to place the security freeze, but only are required to contact one of the three for the fraud alert, as each bureau is obligated to notify the others of a fraud alert.
CFPB issues updated FCRA model disclosures to implement Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act amendments
On September 12, the CFPB issued an interim final rule to comply with the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the “Act”) (previously Senate bill S. 2155). Section 301(a)(1) of the Act amends the FCRA to add section 605A(i), which requires consumer reporting agencies to provide national security freezes free of charge to consumers. Additionally, the new section requires that whenever a consumer is provided a “summary of rights” under section 609, the summary must include a notice regarding the right to obtain a free security freeze. The Act also amends FCRA section 605A(a)(1)(A) to extend from 90 days to one year the minimum time that a credit reporting agency must include an initial fraud alert on a consumer’s file.
The interim final rule, which is effective on September 21, amends the model forms in Regulation V to comply with the Act. The interim file rule also permits various compliance alternatives to mitigate the impact of the changes to these forms, including allowing the use of the 2012 model forms so long as a separate page provided in the same transmittal contains the new information required.
Comments on the interim final rule will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Links to the English and Spanish versions of the revised Summary of Consumer Rights and revised Summary Consumer Identity Theft Rights, covered by Section 609 of the FCRA, are available here.
On June 14, the governor of Rhode Island signed S2562, which prohibits consumer reporting agencies from charging a fee for security freeze services, including the placement, removal, or temporary lifting of a security freeze for a consumer. The law also prohibits the charging of a fee in connection with issuing or reissuing a personal identification number that is used by a consumer to authorize the use of his or her credit or to remove the freeze. Previously, Rhode Island allowed credit reporting agencies to charge a fee up to $10 dollars for security freeze services and $5 for reissuances of personal identification numbers, although customers were entitled to a free initial reissuance of their personal identification numbers. The law is effective September 1.
Similarly, on June 8, the governor of New Hampshire signed HB1700, which prohibits a consumer reporting agency from charging a fee to place, remove, or temporarily lift a security freeze. The law also prohibits a consumer reporting agency from charging a fee to issue or replace a consumer’s personal identification number used in connection with the security freeze. The law requires the consumer reporting agencies to place the freeze within three business days after receiving a consumer request, if the consumer makes the request via mail and within 24 hours after receiving a consumer request, if made electronically or by telephone. The law is effective January 1, 2019.
On June 8, the Illinois governor approved HB 4095, which amends the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act to prohibit consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) from charging consumers a fee for placing, removing, or temporarily lifting a security freeze. The act takes effect immediately. The Act also permits a consumer to request a security freeze by phone or electronic means, in addition to a request in writing.
This followed a similar action by the Connecticut governor, who on June 4 signed SB 472 to prohibit CRAs from charging a fee to consumers to place, remove, or temporarily lift a security freeze on a consumer's account. The legislation also, among other things, (i) prohibits CRAs from—as a condition of placing the freeze—requiring that consumers agree to limit their claims against the agency; (ii) increases the length of time that identity theft prevention and mitigation services must be provided to a consumer after a security breach from 12 to 24 months; and (iii) provides that the banking commissioner will adopt regulations that require CRAs to provide it with “dedicated points of contact” to allow the Department of Banking to assist consumers when a data breach occurs. The act takes effect October 1.
On June 6, the Hawaii governor signed HB 2342 to enhance protection of consumer information by expanding the methods consumers may use to request security freezes, and by prohibiting credit reporting agencies (CRAs) from charging consumers a fee to place, remove, or temporarily lift a security freeze on a consumer's credit report or records. Among other things, the act now permits a consumer or a “protected consumer’s representative” to request a security freeze via first-class mail, a telephone call, or through a CRA’s designated secure website, and also preserves the CRA’s ability to lift a security freeze when the freeze was executed due to material misrepresentation by the consumer. When lifting a security freeze, CRAs are required to send written confirmation to the affected consumer within five business days. The act takes effect July 1.
On May 20, the Louisiana governor signed SB361 to amend the state’s existing data breach notification law. The amendments require entities conducting business in the state or that own or license computerized data to (i) “implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices appropriate to the nature of the information to protect the personal information from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure,” and (ii) take “all reasonable steps” to destroy documents containing personal information once they no longer need to be retained. Key amendment highlights are as follows:
- revises definitions, which include (i) defining “breach of the security of the system” to now apply to “the compromise… of computerized data that results in, or there is a reasonable likelihood to result in. . .” unauthorized acquisition and access; and (ii) revising the definition of “personal information” to include residents of the state, and include passport numbers and biometric data;
- requires entities to notify affected individuals within 60 days of the discovery of a data breach—pending the needs of law enforcement—and further stipulates that if a determination is made to delay notification, the Attorney General must be notified in writing within the 60-day period to receive an extension of time;
- provides that substitute notification—consisting of email notification, a notice posted to the entity’s website, and notifications to major statewide media—may be provided should the entity demonstrate that (i) the cost of the notification would exceed $100,000; (ii) the affected class of persons exceeds 100,000; or (iii) the entities lack sufficient contact information; and
- states that violations of the Database Security Breach Notification Law constitute an unfair act or practice.
The amendments take effect August 1.
Separately, on May 15, the governor signed SB127, which prohibits credit reporting agencies from charging a fee for placing, reinstating, temporarily lifting, or revoking a security freeze. The bill became effective upon signature by the governor.
On May 19, the Minnesota governor signed HF1243, which, effective immediately, prohibits credit reporting agencies for charging a fee for the placement, removal, or temporary lift of a security freeze. The law previously allowed for a fee of $5.00. Additionally, effective January 1, 2019, the law authorizes the placement of a security freeze for a protected person – defined by the law as an individual under the age of 16 – if a consumer reporting agency receives a request by the protected person’s representative and certain authentication standards are met. The law also outlines the requirements for removing a security freeze for a protected person.
On May 15, the Maryland governor signed SB 202, which prohibits consumer reporting agencies from charging consumers, or protected consumers’ representatives, a fee for the placement, removal, or temporary lift of a security freeze. Previously, Maryland allowed for a fee, in most circumstances, of up to $5.00 for each placement, temporary lift, or removal. The law takes effect October 1.
On May 3, the Georgia governor signed SB 376, which amends Georgia law to prohibit consumer reporting agencies from charging a fee for placing or removing a security freeze on a consumer’s account. Previously, Georgia law allowed for a fee of no more than $3.00 for each security freeze placement, removal, or temporary lift, unless the consumer was a victim of identity theft or over 65 years old. Under SB 376, consumer reporting agencies may not charge a fee to any consumer at any time for the placement or removal of a security freeze. This law takes effect July 1.
On May 8, Maryland governor Larry Hogan signed HB848, which expands Maryland’s authority over Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) by requiring CRAs to develop a secure system to process electronic requests for placing, lifting, or removing a security freeze. Additionally, the law expands the definition of “protected consumer” for purposes of free security freezes to include persons age 85 or older, certain members of the military, and incarcerated individuals. The law also (i) codifies an existing requirement that CRAs register with the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation (OCFR); (ii) allows the OCFR to investigate written consumer complaints against CRAs; and (iii) increases the maximum civil monetary penalty to $1,000 for the first violation and $2,500 for each subsequent violation. The law is effective October 1.
- Jonice Gray Tucker to join CFPB panel at CBA’s Washington Forum
- Jonice Gray Tucker to moderate “Pandemic relief response and lasting impacts on access, credit, banking, and equality” at the American Bar Association Business Law Section Spring Meeting
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "Post-pandemic CFPB exam preparation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Spring Conference & Expo
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Making fair lending work for you" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Spring Conference & Expo
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Reading the tea leaves of President Biden’s initial financial appointees" at LendIt Fintech
- Moorari K. Shah to discuss “CA, NY, federal licensing and disclosure” at the Equipment Leasing & Finance Association Legal Forum
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Compliance under Biden" at the WSJ Risk & Compliance Forum
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “The future of fair lending” at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference