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.
In its first report on this subject published in February 2005, The World Privacy Forum documented that 96 known imposter domains existed, with 50 of those domains active and online. In its new study, “Call Don’t Click Update: Still be smart about ordering Federally mandated free credit reports,” the World Privacy Forum has found that 233 known imposter sites now exist, with 112 of the imposter domains active and online. This marks a 124 percent increase in known, active imposter domains since February.