Privacy Tip #196 – Free Credit Monitoring for Active Duty Military and National Guard Personnel

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Part of the 2018 Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (which amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act) included a provision requiring credit reporting agencies (CRAs) to provide free electronic credit monitoring services to active duty military personnel. CRAs are required by law to notify active duty military consumers about any “material” additions or modifications to their credit files.

On June 24, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission finalized the proposed Rule that it released in November, called the Free Electronic Credit Monitoring for Active Duty Military Rule. According to the FTC’s press release, “the final Rule defines ‘active duty military consumer’ as a consumer in military service who meets the FCRA’s definition of ‘active duty military consumer,’” which requires that the consumer be assigned to service away from their usual duty station, or be a member of the National Guard. However, all National Guard members are entitled to free credit monitoring “regardless of whether they are assigned away from their usual duty station.”

The Rule also requires that when a CRA notifies an active duty military consumer about a material change to their credit file, “the CRA must also provide that consumer with free access to that file.”

The Rule provides guidance to CRAs about how to confirm that an individual is in active military service and thus entitled to these benefits.

The Rule will go into effect three months from when it is published. This is an important benefit for active duty military personnel and those individuals in the National Guard, and will be a challenge for CRAs to comply.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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