As reported by the American Bar Association and PHIprivacy.net, lawyers, accountants, health care providers and others soon may get some clarity as to whether the "red flag" rules apply to them. The United States Senate voted unanimously to pass the Red Flag Program Clarification Act of 2010. Under the Act, according to statements from Sen. Christoper Dodd (D) of Connecticut:
lawyers, doctors, dentists, orthodontists, pharmacists, veterinarians, accountants, nurse practitioners, social workers, other types of health care providers and other service providers will no longer be classified as “creditors” for the purposes of the Red Flags Rule just because they do not receive payment in full from their clients at the time they provide their services, when they don’t offer or maintain accounts that pose a reasonably foreseeable risk of identity theft.
After the Red Flags Rule became final, many businesses indicated that they were not aware that they would be covered by this rule. Despite the Federal Trade Commission delaying enforcement of the rule several times to allow these entities time to come into compliance, a number of professional organizations, including the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association, sued the FTC for taking the position that professionals were “creditors” when they allowed consumers to pay later, and would have to comply with its Red Flags Rule. On May 28, 2010, the FTC announced that it would delay enforcing its Red Flags Rule through December 31, 2010 and asked Congress to pass legislation that would resolve any questions about which entities should be covered as “creditors” and to obviate the need for further enforcement delays.
Presently, only the Senate has acted on this request. The measure will need to be approved by the House of Representatives and signed by President Obama. Still, this is encouraging news for many concerned about compliance with this new mandate.