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WHAT IS IDENTITY THEFT?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft.
The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make—or until you’re contacted by a debt collector.

Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record.  Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.

New ‘Red Flag’ Requirements for Financial Institutions and Creditors Will Help Fight Identity Theft

Identity thieves use people’s personally identifying information to open new accounts and misuse existing accounts, creating havoc for consumers and businesses. Financial institutions and creditors soon will be required to implement a program to detect, prevent, and mitigate instances of identity theft.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the federal bank regulatory agencies, and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) have issued regulations (the Red Flags Rules) requiring financial institutions and creditors to develop and implement written identity theft prevention programs, as part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act of 2003. The programs must be in place by November 1, 2008, and must provide for the identification, detection, and response to patterns, practices, or specific activities – known as “red flags” – that could indicate identity theft.

"AMERICA'S MORTGAGE CENTER, LTD. (NMLS 224654) is fully compliant with the FTC "Red Flags Rule"
We take Identity Theft very serious."

Tim Barnett, President

Complying with the Red Flags Rules

Under the Red Flags Rules, financial institutions and creditors must develop a written program that identifies and detects the relevant warning signs – or “red flags” – of identity theft. These may include, for example, unusual account activity, fraud alerts on a consumer report, or attempted use of suspicious account application documents. The program must also describe appropriate responses that would prevent and mitigate the crime and detail a plan to update the program. The program must be managed by the Board of Directors or senior employees of the financial institution or creditor, include appropriate staff training, and provide for oversight of any service providers.

How flexible are the Red Flags Rules?

The Red Flags Rules provide all financial institutions and creditors the opportunity to design and implement a program that is appropriate to their size and complexity, as well as the nature of their operations. Guidelines issued by the FTC, the federal banking agencies, and the NCUA (ftc.gov/opa/2007/10/redflag.shtm) should be helpful in assisting covered entities in designing their programs. A supplement to the Guidelines identifies 26 possible red flags. These red flags are not a checklist, but rather, are examples that financial institutions and creditors may want to use as a starting point. They fall into five categories:

  • alerts, notifications, or warnings from a consumer reporting agency;
  • suspicious documents;
  • suspicious personally identifying information, such as a suspicious address;
  • unusual use of – or suspicious activity relating to – a covered account; and
  • notices from customers, victims of identity theft, law enforcement authorities, or other businesses about possible identity theft in connection with covered accounts.