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Opportunity for public comment on the accuracy of credit reports

Financial privacy | credit reports — Consumers and organizations have an opportunity to submit public comments about the accuracy and integrity of credit reports. Until February 11, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Trade Commission and other banking agencies will be accepting comments on their draft rulemaking regarding how creditors and other furnishers provide information to consumer reporting agencies, and which types of direct disputes they must handle. This proposed rulemaking is a key one; it defines what accuracy and integrity of information provided to consumer reporting agencies means, how disputes may be handled directly with the furnishers, and which types of direct disputes furnishers may ignore. The NCLC, Consumer’s Union, and the World Privacy Forum have written a sample letter that may be downloaded and used or modified for the comments. To file your letter, submit your comments to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System by mailing the comments to regs.comments@federalreserve.gov with the subject line “Docket No. R–1300.”

Updates to Top Ten Opt-Out List

Opt-out | Financial privacy — The World Privacy Forum has updated its popular Top Ten Opt Out list to reflect several new change made to the Direct Marketing Association opt outs. In the past, some of the DMA opt-outs, like the Direct Marketing Association’s mailing preference lists, used to cost $1. That fee has now been removed for people opting out online. Please see item #3 on the Opt Out list for the complete update.

World Privacy Forum files public comments regarding oversight of genetic testing; warns about the privacy risks related to unregulated commercial genetic tests and the need to prevent phantom genetic tests from becoming a new business model for fraudsters

Genetic privacy | SACGHS — The World Privacy Forum filed extensive comments with the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society (SACGHS) regarding its draft report on genetic testing oversight, U.S. System of Oversight of Genetic Testing: A Response to the Charge of the Secretary of HHS. The World Privacy Forum requested SACGHS pay more attention in its final report to the privacy consequences of unregulated genetic testing that occurs outside the health care sector. The WPF comments note that current and proposed remedies for the misuse of genetic information tend to focus on the use of the information within the health care treatment, payment, and insurance systems. What is crucially important is to analyze how to protect genetic information in the realm of commercial collection, maintenance, use and disclosures. Another area the comments discuss is the potential for new forms of fraudulent activity related to genetic testing (Phantom genetic testing, that is, genetic tests marketed to consumers that are not even real or viable genetic tests.) The World Privacy Forum specifically recommended that the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics be tasked with looking at this matter, that an independent pre-market assessment mechanism is created for genetic tests offered outside the clinical setting, and that privacy be expressly discussed in the overarching recommendations in the final report.

Fair Information Practices (FIPS) page update

Fair Information Practices — The World Privacy Forum has updated its page on Fair Information Practices to include the new work by Robert Gellman in this area. His article, Fair Information Practices: A Basic History, December 2007, is an important history of the development of Fair Information Practices. It includes information that even experts familiar with FIPs may not know.

New FTC statistics affirm World Privacy Forum’s 2006 Medical Identity Theft report; give first robust medical identity theft statistics

Medical identity theft update — The Federal Trade Commission released its national ID theft survey, which for the first time contains statistics specific to medical identity theft. According to the FTC report (p. 21), 3 percent of all identity theft victims in 2005 were victims of medical identity theft, which means of 8.3 million ID theft victims, approximately 250,000 people were victimized by medical identity theft in that year alone. The purpose of the World Privacy Forum 2006 report was to prove that medical identity theft existed, and was already occurring in large numbers. At the time the report was published, the crime of medical identity theft had not been specifically studied, nor was it understood to exist. The FTC statistics abundantly affirm the thesis and conclusions of the WPF report.