New Law Helps Protect Consumers and Promote Credit

December 8, 2003 -- Posted at 7:15pm

JONESBORO, AR -- A new bill is aimed at helping consumers get credit, protect the credit history they have and help prevent others from harming Americans' current credit history.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act was signed December 4, 2003. It sets a national credit reporting standard to make it easier to get credit cards, loans and mortgages.

The law also requires business owners and workers to black out Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and debit card numbers on receipts. Those measures should help lower cases of identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission estimates 10 million people were victimized last year.

Lisa Campbell's credit cards were stolen by a customer two years ago, but a phone call alerting her to the theft on that same day allowed her to call her credit card companies and cancel her cards. Therefore, it didn't harm her credit history.

"Before it was all over, they had charged like $13,000," said Campbell.

Checking her credit report, would have made her aware of the charges had she not known about them. That's why this new law is also making it mandatory that Americans be given a free copy of theirs each year. A national fraud-alert system to minimize damage once a theft has occurred will also be implemented.

Garry Patterson, a financial counselor at Consumer Debt Counseling, said, "Good credit history is like money in the bank. Make sure that it is accurate. Check it regularly, because these days with just the internet and people on computers, it's very difficult to keep track of everything (your personal business)".