Identity Theft and the "Red Flag" Rule

February 26, 2010
Just a week or so ago I had another opportunity to speak to a group about Identity Theft and had a nice time of exchanging stories, tips, and sharing some good 'ole common sense advice. A few days after that, I received an email from a BBB colleague reminding us about the FTC Red Flag Rule! The what? What does my speech and the Red Flag Rule have in common?  You!

It's easy to protect ourselves from identity theft, well, maybe easier, but what about others protecting our identity? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Red Flag Rule is designed to help protect our identity when we deal with businesses - such as financial institutions and creditors. It's been around since 2008, but it's my understanding that the FTC will begin enforcing the rule on May 1, 2009.

In a nutshell, the rule is a law which requires certain industries to "develop and implement written identity theft prevention programs, as part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction (FACT) Act of 2003...must be in place by November 1, 2008 and must provide for the identification, detection, and response to patterns, practices or specific activities - known as red flags - that could indicate identity theft."

You may have already become aware by your bank's fraud department calling you to check to see if you had made certain purchases that look suspicious; or received a letter in the mail asking you to call them if you had not applied for credit, etc. These are specific programs to protect you from identity theft.

Helpful links for Consumers:
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
BBB ID Theft Information

Helpful links for Businesses:
FTC Red Flag Rule 

How do you start in protecting yourself?  Be discerning about who you give your information to.  Start With Trust - begin by identifying the good businesses - the ones that have agreed to abide by a strong set of standards and have been invited to become accredited through BBB.