WITHOUT YOUR SUPPORT, CREDIT HEADERS COULD BECOME
A THING OF THE PAST IF HR2971 BECOMES LAW
From: Bruce H. Hulme, Chairman
for the NCISS Investigations Legislative Committee
THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF INVESTIGATION AND SECURITY SERVICES
The rocket speed passage of HR 2971 before the House Ways & Means Committee last week has served as a wake-up call not only to investigators across the country, but to the legal profession, information providers, and financial services industries. All will be severely impacted should this bill pass before the full House this fall when Congress returns from its summer recess.NCISS has been in talks with governmental affairs representatives of the major credit bureaus and information brokers, as well as the banking and securities industries. They now have great concerns over a number of aspects of the bill in its current form and are poised to attempt to defeat it rather than propose an amendment. However, that course of action could very well change. NCISS already previously submitted an amendment to Rep. Clay Shaw, the sponsor of this 53 page bill to grant an exemption for the legitimate purposes for which private investigators access credit header information. It was viewed unacceptable by his subcommittee. In the bill's present form, even if investigators were to be granted an exemption or the section outlawing credit headers was removed from the bill, there are enough other aspects of this legislation that would stymie the consumer reporting agencies that in the end would result in closing our present access to credit header information. We are caught in a "Catch 22."Prior to the return of Congress after Labor Day, NCISS will be concentrating on the full Committee on Financial Services as well as it's Subcommittee on Financial Services and Consumer Credit and the Committee on Energy and Commerce and it's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection. These committees and subcommittees will have this bill before them before it ever reaches the House floor for a full vote. Since passage of this legislation would impact the administration of justice we are attempting to convince the House Committee on the Judiciary to look over the provisions of HR 2971 as well.However, we still need the help of each of you, whether or not you are a member of NCISS. Please make every effort to contact your member of Congress at the local office and also see if they might happen to serve on one of the aforementioned committees. If so, they will be voting on this measure twice, once in their committee and at a future date should this bill reach the House floor for a full vote. If your representative is a member of one of the committees that will be studying this bill please let us know immediately. If not, get an assurance that they will vote down this bill in its present form.
IN EITHER CASE, PLEASE SET UP AN APPOINTMENT
WITH YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Below are talking points that you may use to seek not only the assistance from your member of Congress, but from clients, the legal profession, insurance carriers, corporate security, your information brokers and others that you believe will assist in defeating this bill or at some future date lobby for an exemption for our industry. The information below is geared towards illustrating how the closure of credit header information will adversely affect the administration of justice and the reasons why investigators need continued access to records containing the social security number. I ask that you carefully look over the talking points below. You may tailor them to your own personal and professional experience.To the many that faxed their letters to the members of the House Ways & Means Committee last week I thank you and request that you follow-up with them again using some of the material below. To everyone else, we need your help too!
On behalf of the NCISS Legislative Committee I thank you for your anticipated assistance to us in defeating HR 2971.
HR 2971 THREATENS JUDICIAL SYSTEM
The Social Security Number Privacy and Identity Theft Prevention Act, (HR 2971) includes some laudable provisions, limiting the public display of SSNs and establishing penalties for those who misuse personal information. But several provisions of this well-intentioned measure would hinder the fight against fraud and identity theft.Congress has recently enacted substantial measures to combat identity theft and increase consumer privacy. These include the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, Gramm-Leach Bliley and the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act. Congress should allow the full implementation of these statutes and measure their effectiveness before adopting additional related legislation. HR 2971 would, in fact, have a severe impact on the investigation of many criminal acts, including both ID theft and fraud. In addition, the bill would raise the cost of litigation and make it more difficult for juries to hear all the facts at trial.
Witness Location Hindered
HR 2971 would limit the use of a major tool used by investigators, attorneys and law enforcement to locate individuals. The information, contained in the non-credit related portion of a credit report, is used for many purposes, including locating recalcitrant witnesses, finding heirs, solving fraud and identity theft and many other purposes.
The impact of this restriction on the judicial system would be substantial. This location information is used, for example, to assure that the correct John Smith has been found out of the tens of thousands sharing that name. Supporters of the legislation assert that the information could be obtained by court order. Anyone who has practiced law knows that one cannot request a court order every time it's necessary to locate an individual.
HR 2971 Denies Equal Protection
In addition to the provision limiting access to location information, the bill prohibits the sale of Social Security number information, with limited exceptions. The impact of this provision is broad. An individual obtaining a thousand page document for a client would have to review it in its entirety to assure there was no SSN listed. Otherwise, he or she could risk committing a felony. As in the discussion above, one could not report that the John Smith that has been located is the one being sought.
Clearly, this bill would raise the cost of locating individuals. The effect will be to close the courtroom doors to many. What had been a quick search would become an expensive endeavor, once again. Criminal defendants who are indigent, or of limited means, will have less of an ability to locate exculpatory evidence.
Congress should step back from this legislation and carefully consider its ramifications.
VITAL INVESTIGATIONS REQUIRE INFORMATION ACCESS
The private sector provides many valuable investigative services to businesses, consumers, and law enforcement agencies.
It is essential to have access to information in order to perform these essential functions. The continued use of SSNs as a distinct personal identifier is fundamental to assuring accuracy of information.
Such services include:
Investigators seek witnesses for attorneys preparing for trial or contemplating filing a lawsuit.
Locating missing persons or heirs
Access to records is essential to help parents find missing children and for executors to find heirs.
Insurance companies, banks and others utilize investigators to uncover or prevent fraudulent activities. Information resources can help uncover fictitious names.
Finding "deadbeat parents"
Information is vital to assist in recovery of delinquent child support payments. Investigators often help make recoveries of more than $20,000, providing important resources for children and reducing public assistance rolls.
Investigators seek those against whom judgments have been made.
Finding pension beneficiaries
Social Security numbers are used to locate persons who are eligible to receive a pension from a former employer.
Investigators work with both consumers and businesses to verify the backgrounds and licensing status of doctors, lawyers, and providers of child and elderly care. Information obtained by investigators can be used to determine if an individual has had a license suspended in another jurisdiction.
For further information about the National Council of Investigation and Security Services go to http://www.nciss.org or call 1-800-445-8408.
Contributions in any amount may also be sent to: NCISS Legislation Committee at 7501 Sparrows Point Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21219
Bruce H. Hulme, CFE
Special Investigations, Inc.
P.O.Box 3392, Church St. Sta.
New York, NY 10008-3392
Chair: NCISS Investigations Legislative Committee and Past President
Chair: Associated Licensed Detectives of New York State Legislative Committee
Co-Chair: INTELNET Legislative Committee Board member
Legislative Liaison Board member: Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, NYC Chapter
Permission is granted to repost to other listservs. [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING NCISS
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