The World Privacy Forum filed comments today urging the U.S. Treasury Department to obtain consumers’ consent before checking their credit reports. Consumers who participate in the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) — an Obama administration program created to help consumers renegotiate their mortgages so they can keep their homes — must allow the Federal Government to check their credit reports without first obtaining consent. This procedure sets a negative precedent, and is at odds with consumer expectations of privacy. The Treasury gave itself this power in an obscure set of “Routine Uses” in a Privacy Act notice published along with the proposed system of records for the program. The World Privacy Forum has objected to this, and has filed detailed comments with the Treasury about the lack of consumer consent. The public comment period on this program is open until September 4, 2009.
Financial privacy — U.S. consumers have the right to order one free credit report per year from each of the three national credit bureaus. The World Privacy Forum’s landing page about federally-mandated free Annual Credit Reports and the consumer tips for ordering a free annual credit report have been fully updated.
Security Freeze update | Financial privacy — As of November 1, 2007, the ability to place a security freeze is available nationwide at the three major credit reporting bureaus. To date, 39 states and the District of Columbia have some form of security freeze law. But now, even in the states that did not pass security freeze legislation, consumers will be able to place a security freeze. A security freeze lets you stop the disclosure of your credit report by a credit bureau. A security freeze can be especially helpful to individuals who are having persistent problems with identity theft. For more information:
Security freeze | identity theft | financial privacy — A credit freeze (sometimes called a security freeze) lets you stop the disclosure of your credit report by a credit bureau. A credit freeze can be especially helpful to individuals who are having persistent problems with identity theft. If you live in a state with a security freeze law, then you may be able to place a security freeze on your files. This World Privacy Forum resource gives general background on security freezes, lists the states with security freeze laws, and links to more information for each state.
The World Privacy Forum cautions consumers who qualify to order a federally mandated free annual credit report to ensure that they take common-sense computer safety steps before ordering their credit report online.