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The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACTA) added new sections to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.), intended primarily to help consumers fight the growing crime of identity theft. Accuracy, privacy, limits on information sharing, and new consumer rights to disclosure are included in FACTA. (Pub. L. 108-159, 111 Stat. 1952)

This is all good news for consumers. However, consumers came out on the losing end when Congress virtually barred states from adopting stronger laws. The Notes section at the end of this guide has more information about Congressional pre-emption of state laws.

Throughout this guide we use the terms "law" and "regulations" or "rules" when referring to new consumer rights under FACTA. For consumers trying to understand the process, this can be confusing. To simplify, a bill introduced in Congress becomes law after it is approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and then signed by the President.

The law often directs the appropriate federal agency or agencies to adopt regulations, or rules, that expand upon the provisions included in the law. In most cases, federal agencies publish proposed regulations seeking public comment. Industry representatives, private citizens, other government agencies, consumer organizations, and anyone else with an interest can submit written comments to the agency. After the comment period is completed and the agency has analyzed all the comments, it then issues the final rules. Properly adopted rules have the same effect as a law passed by Congress.

Some new sections of FACTA were effective December 1, 2004. Other sections directed federal agencies to solicit public comment and then adopt final regulations. In addition to the Federal Trade Commission (, the federal financial agencies have jurisdiction and are involved in writing regulations to implement FACTA.

This guide is a summary and update of the new FACTA provisions. Information about the rulemaking process is in the References section at the end of this guide. There are still many details to be decided through regulations. We will continue to revise and update these sections as final federal regulations are published. For more about the FACTA rulemaking process, see the Resources section at the end of this guide.