The Federal Trade Commission announced it is further delaying its enforcement of the “Red Flags” Rule through December 31, 2010. This move comes at the request of several Members of Congress who want to further consider legislation that would clarify who is subject to the Rule.
The delay follows the lawsuit (pdf) filed by the American Medical Association and others arguing that the Red Flags Rule should not apply to physicians. As reported by amednews.com, the plaintiffs bolster their case by pointing to a 2009 federal court ruling (pdf) (American Bar Assn. v. Federal Trade Commission) exempting lawyers from the Rule. That ruling is now on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
Legislation is pending in the United States House of Representatives that would exempt certain professions, including physicians, from the Red Flags Rule. H.R. 3763 passed the House unanimously in October 2009, but there has been no further movement in Congress on this issue.
The Rule was developed under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, in which Congress directed the FTC and other agencies to develop regulations requiring “creditors” and “financial institutions” to address the risk of identity theft. The resulting Red Flags Rule requires all such entities that have “covered accounts” to develop and implement written identity theft prevention programs to help identify, detect, and respond to patterns, practices, or specific activities – known as “red flags” – that could indicate identity theft.
In its announcement, the FTC notes that as was the case with prior enforcement delays, this enforcement delay is limited to the Red Flags Rule and does not extend to the rule regarding address discrepancies applicable to users of consumer reports, or to the rule regarding changes of address applicable to card issuers.