Federal Trade Commission Eyes Credit Bureaus, Other Data-Base Firms

By Fickensher, Lisa | American Banker, March 7, 1997 | Go to article overview

Federal Trade Commission Eyes Credit Bureaus, Other Data-Base Firms


Fickensher, Lisa, American Banker


Consumer privacy is a top priority for the Federal Trade Commission, which is launching a study that will focus on how personal data is collected, sold, and used.

The agency will target companies such as Lexis-Nexis that provide information to various kinds of customers-such as collection agencies, attorneys, banks, and law enforcers seeking to locate individuals.

"There is no legal restriction denying access to this information," said FTC attorney David Medine, "but we will determine what the benefits are and the risks of using these services."

If the agency finds that such providers are not protecting consumers' rights to privacy, access to the data could be limited.

The study is the result of a letter sent to the agency last year by three congressmen who were concerned that consumer privacy rights are being violated by companies that operate computer data bases.

A widely publicized incident last year involving a data base called P-Trak offered by Lexis-Nexis sparked a public outcry about privacy rights.

The congressmen asked the FTC to investigate companies that compile data, including "identifiable personal information of private citizens without their knowledge."

The results of another privacy study, also requested by Congress but conducted by the Federal Reserve in conjunction with the FTC, are due at the end of this month. …

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