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Effective December 4, 2003 apartment firms must comply with a new law, known as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) that significantly impacts apartment firms' customer response and resident screening programs. The measure also addresses the business community's primary concern by expanding the types of state laws pre-empted by the FCRA and making those extensions permanent.
Specifically, the law creates new opportunities for consumers to: block data in their credit files that they claim is the result of identity theft; request information from creditors about consumer scores and how such scores can be improved; and obtain free consumer reports. The act also will require housing providers to consider how their screening procedures should treat consumers who have blocked certain file data; develop new guidelines for the security and disposal of consumer files; and respond directly to consumers who claim credit report information furnished by the housing provider is inaccurate.
This White Paper details the FACT Act's provisions that apply directly or indirectly to apartment firms and includes valuable operational recommendations.
The bill is part of a broader bipartisan trend in Congress and the states to strengthen consumer privacy regulations. Specifically, FACT joins new federal laws restricting telephone and fax marketing; recently-passed federal legislation limiting certain unsolicited commercial e-mail (i.e, spam); and new consumer privacy laws in California and other states. In addition to this year's consumer privacy measures, the 2000 Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) Act places additional restrictions on certain apartment industry practices. Firms are encouraged to undertake a broad review of their operational procedures to ensure compliance with all applicable state and federal consumer privacy laws in company marketing, screening and human resources. In addition, NMHC/NAA members can access a Members Only memorandum on the federal Do Not Call/Do Not Fax regulations as well as a White Paper analysis of the GLB privacy requirements.
NMHC Contact Information:
Vice President of Property Management