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It's FACT: New Federal Law Targets Credit Reports, ID Theft

Thursday, April 1, 2004

A new federal law tackles two problems consumers might encounter: fair access to credit and identity theft.

Enacted last December, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT) amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1996, which established uniform standards regarding what type of information credit agencies can include in credit reports. FACT makes those standards permanent; otherwise, they would have expired Jan. 1. The standards are designed to ensure consumers' credit histories are accurate and that consumers have access to their credit reports.

The new identity theft provisions of the law affect merchants, lenders, credit reporting agencies and federal regulators. The provisions have several goals: prevention, apprehension of criminals and protection of identity theft victims.

The law also gives consumers more control over the types of solicitations they receive, allowing individuals to refuse solicitations from certain businesses for a five-year period. Businesses that have a pre-existing business relationship with customers are not included.