Infobytes - A Weekly In-depth review of news & developments in the financial services industry - October 12 2012


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- Excerpt From Federal Issues:

FTC Settles Charges Related to Sale and Use of Consumer Mortgage Payment Data. On October 10, the FTC announced that a major consumer reporting agency (CRA) agreed to settle charges that it improperly sold lists of consumers who were late on their mortgage payments. The CRA will pay $393,000to resolve allegations that it violated the FTC Act by failing to implement procedures to prevent the sale of lists of consumer information to firms that should not have received them. In a separate but related case, which the DOJ pursued under a referral from the FTC, a data reseller and its affiliates settled charges that the companies violated the FTC Act and FCRA by (i) obtaining prescreened lists without having a permissible purpose, (ii) reselling the reports without disclosing to the consumer reporting agency that provided them who the end users would be, (iii) failing to maintain reasonable procedures to ensure that prospective users had a permissible purpose to get them, (iv) to the extent that firm offers of credit were made, failing to maintain a record of the criteria used to select consumers for these offers, and (v) failing to control access to sensitive consumer financial information. The resellers agreed to pay a $1.2 million civil penalty and will be barred from using or selling prescreened lists without a permissible purpose, or in connection with solicitations for debt relief or mortgage assistance relief products or services.

Senator Seeks Information from Data Brokers. On October 10, Senator Rockefeller (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, sent letters to nine data brokers seeking information about how those companies compile and sell consumer information. For example, Mr. Rockefeller asked that, by November 2, 2012 the data brokers (i) provide a list of the sources from which the brokers have collected or received data from or about consumers over the past four years, (ii) describe the methods of data collection employed, (iii) identify the consumer data collected during that period, and (iv) list the products or services offered to third parties. This follows similar requests made in August by a bipartisan group of members of the House of Representatives. Because the data brokers targeted by members of the respective chambers of Congress overlap only in part, a total of fourteen companies have been asked to produce information and materials to Congress.

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