WHIP APPLAUDS RARE MOMENT OF BIPARTISANSHIP IN HOUSE

Praises Passage of FACT Act that will Help and Protect Consumers

For Immediate Release:

September 10, 2003

Contact:Stacey Farnen
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today following passage of the bipartisan Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act, H.R. 2622), which is the reauthorization of the Fair Credit Reporting Act:

“I was pleased to support the FACT Act today.  It was heartening that the Republican leadership will still permit this House to work in a bipartisan manner on occasion.  This bill is an example of how our legislative process should work:  a need was identified, hearings were held, a bipartisan solution was crafted, and a bill open to amendment was brought to the Floor. 

“This legislation responds to the changes wrought by the Internet and Information Revolution on our credit system, as well as the incredible rise of identity theft – 27 million Americans have been victims of identity theft in the last five years, including nearly 10 million people in the last year alone.  This legislation must be signed into law by the end of the year, and I urge the Senate to act promptly.

“This bill will protect consumers by providing a national uniform standard on how consumer reporting agencies and other financial services entities may access and use consumer financial and medical data.  It will ensure that consumers can receive a free annual credit report, which will be helpful to working families who cannot afford to shell out payments to multiple reporting agencies.   In addition, it gives consumers new options for disputing and correcting inaccuracies in their credit reports, encourages prompt investigations of such disputes, and establishes new requirements to prevent corrected errors from being reintroduced into a credit report.

“The FACT Act also includes provisions to combat identity theft by permitting consumers to more easily place ‘fraud alerts’ on their consumer reports; to require credit reporting agencies to block (or omit) information that is confirmed to have resulted from an identity theft; and to prohibit retailers from printing the expiration date and more than the last five digits of a consumer’s credit or debit card number on electronic receipts.  Finally, it greatly expands the protections that govern the sharing and use of sensitive medical records, as well as information on medical payments and debts.

 “Members of both parties worked diligently to guarantee passage of this important legislation, particularly Ranking Member Barney Frank and Chairman Oxley, and the debate was remarkably absent of the contempt Republican leaders have continually shown their Democratic colleagues this Congress.  It is my strong hope that Republican leaders will view this experience as a model for how to advance a positive agenda that is the interest of all Americans and change the negative tone that has emanated from Republicans in the past 9 months.

“Congress is considering this legislation in order to permanently extend seven preemption provisions that will expire on December 31.  These provisions are critical to ensuring a strong national standard for consumer and the financial services community.”

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