Return to State PIRG Consumer Page:

ARCHIVE OF 2003 -- 2004 Credit Reporting and Identity Theft Documents

from PIRG and the Consumer/Privacy Coalition: These links include all major testimony, analyses and press statements from PIRG and other consumer groups actiive in a coalition during Congressional consideration of legislation signed on 4 December 2003 to significantly amend the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and prevent identity theft and credit reportinge errors. While the new law includes several consumer gains, the gains come at the unacceptable price of sweeping permanent limits on state authority to enact stronger laws.

2 May 2004 Over 2,000 U.S. PIRG activists (many activist comments are also posted separately at FTC site) joined leading consumer groups in filing comments to the Federal Trade Commission urging it to implement Congressionally mandated free credit reports more quickly and with greater privacy protections. U.S. PIRG, in addition to preparing comments with a large coalition of consumer groups and collecting email letters from over 2000 citizens, also joined comments by the National Council of La Raza and Consumers Union urging that the FTC require credit bureaus to establish an English and Spanish shared "central source" website and English and Spanish shared telephone number for consumers to obtain their reports. The requirement that credit bureaus provide credit reports for free was one of the few bright spots in the 2003 enactment of major legislation, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act which permanently restricted state authority to enact many credit reporting and financial privacy laws. The law's free report requirement requires the Big 3 national bureaus to set up a central system (website and phone and mail) for consumers to request each of their free reports. Following a lot of whining by the credit bureaus, Congress allowed the FTC to consider slowing the implementation of the law to prevent overloads. Consequently, as proposed, the FTC rule would provide free reports in 4 "staggered" quarterly rollouts, first to to the West Coast on 1 December 2004, but not to the East Coast until 1 September 2005. We also argued that the credit bureaus, unless prevented from doing so, would collect too much confidential information and also would attempt to use deceptive advertising to upsell consumers seeking to take advantage of their federally-mandated right to free reports. The bureaus would try to coerce them into purchasing over-priced credit monitoring and identity theft services. The FTC must issue the rule by 4 June 2004.

7 Jan 04 Consumer group summary of new FCRA amendments prepared by U.S. PIRG, Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America.

4 Dec 03 PIRG statement on President's signing of identity theft law. Excerpt: "Large parts of our long-sought platform to protect identity theft victims and improve credit report accuracy are in this law and we commend those members who worked to enact them. We are disappointed that we could not support the final bill because the permanent extension and expansion of unfair limits on the longstanding right of the states to pass stronger laws means that if the job Congress did isn't good enough, it's doubtful Congress will ever come back to help victims again. While the President often says he is for state's rights, his Administration's record--on privacy, on predatory lending and on environmental protection-- more and more shows a disdain for state authority and a favoritism toward industry-backed usurpation of the right of the states to protect consumers and the environment." Recent op-edit at by PIRG executive director Gene Karpinski, "The States' Rights Principle."

4 Dec 03 Conference report HR 2622. This is official House Report # 108-396 The new law, Public Law # 108-159. These are almost identical. The report includes a very brief manager's explanation at the very end.

21 Nov 03 Release on conference and expected Congressional passage of credit reporting bill. Both the House and Senate have now passed the conference report and the bill awaits only the President's signature to become a law. Compliance will be required no later than one year following enactment, although earlier dates could be set by regulators.

18 Nov 03 Letter to conferees (14 Nov) from leading consumer groups urging conferees to support strongest protections, reject preemption.

4 November 2003 Letter from PIRG, Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America urging support of Feinstein-Boxer "Do Not Share" Senate floor amendment to S. 1753, the credit reporting bill, and in favor of other strengthening amendments. The Feinstein-Boxer amendment was tabled (defeated) 70-24. Here is a link to the Senate vote (NAY is pro-consumer, pro-privacy vote.) While this amendment was defeated, other improvements were made to the Senate bill. PIRG release on passage. S 1753 will now be conferenced with the House-passed bill, HR 2622.

4 November 2003 Threatened by the looming Durbin (IL) amendment to S 1753 and a growing national disdain for its shocking new policy of failing to report positive student loan payment information to all credit bureaus, the massive student lender Sallie Mae sent an 11th hour letter to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Shelby and ranking member Sarbanes announcing they were going to report fully again to all national bureaus. Stories by two Washington Post reporters, both syndicated nationally, had documented how the non-reporting had hurt young borrowers by increasing their cost of credit. Letters from State PIRG Higher Education Project and a 10-group financial aid coalition supporting Durbin amendment. Press release from State PIRG Higher Education Project. Durbin withdrew amendment following letter, but will seek to amend the Higher Education Act.

30 Sept 03 PIRG news release at DC press briefing with California State Senator Liz Figueroa, (her web site) author of numerous privacy laws, who was in DC opposing preemption of stronger state identity theft laws.

23 Sept 03 Letter from civil rights groups (including NAACP and National Council of La Raza) and consumer groups, urging support for important amendments to Senate Banking Committee FCRA bill, including Corzine amendment to ensure study of credit scoring is aadequate to measure potential racial disparity in credit scoring models and also Stabenow amendment to improve reporting of utility bills and smaller loans.

19 Sept 03 Letter from leading consumer and privacy groups to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Sarbanes urging enactment of strongest possible credit reporting/identity theft reform bill that does not preempt stronger state privacy and id theft laws.

9 Sept 03: Letter from 28 consumer, civil rights and privacy groups urging opposition to HR 2622 unless it is amended to preserve stronger state financial privacy and identity theft laws. Also see letter from 42 state Attorneys General opposing state preemption.

3 Sept 03 Take Action: Urge Congress To Protect State Identity Theft and Financial Privacy Laws. Find out more.

Aug 03 Multi-state attorney general letter of August 2003 urging Congressional opposition to preemption signed by 42 state AGs and several territorial AGs.

31 July 03 Testimony of Ed Mierzwinski, USPIRG, on behalf of 11 leading consumer/privacy/community groups opposing extension of Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) preemption of state authority and instead calling for solutions to problems identity theft and credit report errors victims face clearing their names. US Senate Banking Committee (link to hearing).

28 July 03 Statement of Ed Mierzwinski, USPIRG at news conference to release new Consumer Federation of America (CFA) poll on consumer financial literacy and the need for FCRA reform. CFA release (link to CFA site).

22 July 03 Letter from 9 leading consumer/privacy groups to full House Financial Institutions Committee opposing HR 2622, to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act, unless state preemption is removed and strengthening amendments are added. Committee is scheduled to vote 23 July 03.

15 July 03 Letter from U.S. PIRG and Consumer Federation of America to House Financial Services Committee opposing HR 2622 which would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to extend permanently the preemption of state consumer laws.

July 03 Coalition analysis of HR 2622: (26 page detailed legislative analysis, with 3 page summary).

July 03 Privacy Rights Clearinghouse page on recent identity theft surveys:

July 03 Congressional Research Service memo confirming preemptive effect of HR 2622 on California laws. A faxable update is available from Ed Mierzwinski at U.S. PIRG, confirming that HR 2622 would preempt SB 1, the financial privacy law.

9 July 03 Consumer Federation of America Director Stephen Brobeck testifies on behalf of CFA, U.S. PIRG and other groups in opposition to HR 2622, a bill to permanently preempt most state Fair Credit Reporting Act-related laws, before the House Financial Services Committee. Testimony lists PIRG's reform platform in detail.

26 June 03 PIRG testimony and link to full hearing of Senate Banking Committee on the affiliate sharing loophole in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

4 June 03 PIRG House testimony against rolling back states' rights to enact stronger credit reporting and identity theft laws. Link to PIRG testimony. Link to full hearing in House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions. For more information, PIRG's ID Theft/credit reporting pages.

1 May 2003 Policing Privacy: new report based on survey by CALPIRG of police officer views on needed ID theft reforms.

10 April 03 Detailed new fact sheet on federal credit reporting/identity theft/SSN bills PIRG supports or opposes. More

13 March Statement of U.S. PIRG at DC news conference with leading privacy champion, California State Senator Jackie Speier, opposing industry efforts to preempt stronger state privacy and consumer laws. Speier is author of SB 1, proposed opt-in/optout bill to strengthen financial privacy which has passed State Senate and is before Assembly. On 12 March, CALPIRG and other groups filed papers launching campaign to put privacy initiative before voters in March 2004. SB 1 and initiative would strengthen weak federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley law (Fact Sheet).

04 Feb 03 State Attorneys General adopt strong pro-consumer resolution urging Congress not to extend the Fair Credit Reporting Act's (FCRA) temporary preemption of state rights to pass stronger laws. More info at PIRG's credit report pages.


Consumers Union pages on new financial privacy law

Consumers Union's Financial Privacy Now Web site:

EPIC Preemption and Privacy Analysis

PIRG's credit report and id theft pages