The Federal Trade Commission is delaying enforcement of the Red Flags Rule, a section of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003, until June 1, 2010. The FTC posted a notice on its website Friday stating that the delay is at the request of Members of Congress. Enforcement was to begin Nov. 1.
The rule is an anti-fraud regulation requiring creditors and financial institutions with covered accounts to implement programs to identify, detect and respond to the warning signs, or “red flags,” that could indicate identify theft.
Veterinarians fall into the category of creditors, which is defined as any entity that regularly extends or renews credit—or arranges for others to do so—and includes all entities that regularly permit deferred payments for goods or services.
However, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 3763 proposing to exempt certain businesses, including veterinarians, with less than 20 employees from having to comply with the rule. The bill replaces H.R. 2345 and now goes to the U.S. Senate. Since the bill has not been passed into law, veterinarians are still expected to comply with the rule before the current enforcement date, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, which is providing resources for veterinarians at its website. Information includes how the rule will specifically affect veterinarians, details on how veterinary practices can become compliant and online training and consultant resources.
As the AVMA sums it up, “The Red Flags Rule requires you to develop and implement a written identity theft prevention program which is updated as needed; train all employees to implement the program; and oversee your vendors and service providers to ensure they also provide sufficient precautions to prevent, detect and mitigate identity theft.”
Last January, the AVMA Governmental Relations Division sent a letter to the FTC requesting that veterinarians be excluded from the rule. The FTC responded to the AVMA in March stating that veterinarians and other health care providers would be subject to the rule. However, the FTC indicated willingness to continue dialogue to ensure that compliance with the rule will not place undue burdens on the veterinary profession, according to the AVMA.
The FTC also has a website that offers resources to help entities determine if they are covered and, if they are, how to comply with the rule. In addition, the website includes an online compliance template that allows companies to design their own Identity Theft Prevention Program, as well as articles directed to specific businesses and industries, guidance materials and a Frequently Asked Questions section.