It is being reported that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia agreed this morning with the American Bar Association’s argument that the FTC’s Identity Theft Red Flags Rule ("Red Flags Rule" or the "Rule") does not apply to lawyers.  The Rule implements Section 114 and 315 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (the "FACT Act").  In relevant part, the Rule requires creditors and financial institutions that offer or maintain certain accounts to implement an identity theft prevention program.  The program must be designed to detect, prevent, and mitigate the risk of identity theft. The FTC has interpreted the definition of "creditor" broadly.  The Commission has taken the position in publications and numerous panels that lawyers and law firms meet the definition of creditor because they allow clients to pay for legal services after the services are rendered.  For law firms (as well as for other entities that the FTC deems subject to its enforcement jurisdiction), November 1, 2009 is the deadline for compliance with the provisions of the Rule that require implementation of an identity theft prevention program.


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The November 1st deadline for compliance with the FTC’s Red Flags Rule Identity Theft Prevention Program requirements is rapidly approaching.  Of late, there has been a flurry of activity aimed at limiting the scope of the rule.  The Red Flags Rule, which was jointly promulgated by several federal agencies in November 2007, requires all “creditors” that offer or maintain a “covered account” to implement a written identity theft prevention program.  A “creditor” is defined broadly to include “any person who regularly extends, renews, or continues credit.”  In March 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) published a how-to guide for businesses to comply with the Red Flags Rule that confirmed the FTC will broadly construe the rule, stating that the definition of a “creditor” includes all businesses that “provide goods or services and bill customers later.”


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On July 29, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") announced another three-month delay in the enforcement of the provision of Identity Theft Red Flags and Address Discrepancies Rule (the "Rule") that requires creditors and financial institutions to implement an Identity Theft Prevention Program.  The FTC noted that small businesses and entities with a low risk

On May 13, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) published a compliance template designed to assist financial institutions and creditors “at low risk for identity theft ” in developing the Identity Theft Prevention Program required by the FTC’s Identity Theft Red Flags and Address Discrepancies Rule (the “Rule”).  The template is entitled “A Do-It-Yourself Prevention Program for Businesses and Organizations at Low Risk for Identity Theft.”

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At the eleventh hour, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it will once again delay enforcement of the Red Flags Rule.  The Red Flags Rule was promulgated pursuant to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 ("FACTA").  The previous compliance date was May 1, 2009, which was an extension from the original deadline

On March 20, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) published its long-awaited guide to the Red Flags Rule (the “Rule”), entitled “Fighting Fraud with Red Flags Rule:  A How-To Guide for Business.”  The guide applies to creditors and certain financial institutions (such as state-chartered credit unions and mutual funds that offer accounts with check-writing privileges) that are subject to the FTC’s jurisdiction and addresses the provision of the Rule that requires implementation of an Identity Theft Prevention Program.  For entities subject to the FTC’s jurisdiction, the relevant compliance deadline is May 1, 2009.  Financial institutions that are regulated by federal bank regulatory agencies or the National Credit Union Administration (which issues their own versions of the Red Flags Rule) were required to comply with the Rule as of November 1, 2008.


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On March 20, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission published a Red Flags Rule compliance guide for businesses, entitled “Fighting Fraud with the Red Flags Rule.”  The guide offers an overview of the Rule and practical steps businesses need to take to comply.  In addition, the guide addresses the issue that has raised the most concern

Massachusetts recently announced that it is extending the deadline for compliance with new state data security regulations. In consideration of the current economic climate, Massachusetts has extended its original compliance deadline of January 1, 2009. The new compliance deadline will be phased in. By May 1, 2009, companies that are subject to the regulations must generally comply with the new standards and must contractually ensure the compliance of their third-party service providers. In addition, by May 1, 2009, covered businesses must encrypt laptops containing personal information. By January 1, 2010, companies are required to have a written certification of compliance from their third-party service providers and must encrypt other company portable devices, such as memory sticks and PDAs.

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