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WASHINGTON-The House Financial Services Committee marked up a number of bills of interest to credit unions last week from data security to flood insurance. The Financial Data Protection Act (H.R. 3997) would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to set national standards for data security. While the language was in flux up until deadline, the bill generally would force “consumer reporters” to take affirmative steps to protect the confidentiality of a consumer’s sensitive personal financial information. It provides guidelines for investigation requirements, notice and system restoration requirements, third-party duties, consumer notice, fraud mitigation and free file monitoring. The committee was still debating “credit freezes”-which allow consumers to block lenders from their credit reports when fraud is alleged-at deadline in its second day for the markup March 16. The legislation originally required Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Federal Trade Commission to promulgate implementing regulations but neglected NCUA. The legislators heard NCUA’s request for equal treatment with these agencies since none of them regulate federal credit unions. NCUA also asked that the regulatory and enforcement authorities under the Fair Credit Reporting Act be observed, providing NCUA authority over the federal credit unions and recommended that the state-chartered federally insured credit unions fall under the FTC’s purview as is also the case in FCRA. CUNA and NAFCU are supporting the bill, which is just one out of about a dozen legislative proposals. However, the industry is seeking to add a provision to place the cost of replacing compromised cards with the entity that had the security breach among other things. The committee also approved H.R. 4411, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, preventing the use of credit cards and fund transfers for unlawful Internet gambling and would allow the blockage of financial transactions associated with illegal gambling. According to the committee, in 2006, Americans will send $5.9 billion to unregulated, offshore, online casinos, representing nearly half of the $12 billion bet worldwide on Internet gambling. The committee also pointed out that online players can gamble 24 hours a day from home; children may play without sufficient age verification; and betting with a credit card can undercut a player’s perception of the value of cash, leading to addiction, bankruptcy, and crime. The bill would strengthen criminal penalties for wagers with credit cards, checks, or fund transfers and require payment systems to block these transactions. Congressman Jim Leach, who has been pushing the bill for several years now, said, “Unlike brick-and-mortar casinos in the United States that provide jobs and tax revenues, Internet gambling sites yield no benefits to Americans.” He added that these operations are “often fronts for money laundering, drug trafficking and even terrorist financing.” The Financial Services Committee also agreed to a resolution placing Congressman John Campbell (R-Calif.), whom credit unions backed heavily in his special election, on the committee and two subcommittees. Campbell is a CPA with 25 years of business experience and replaces Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) on the committee. Additionally, the Flood Insurance Modernization and Reform Act of 2006, providing further funding to the National Flood Insurance Program, was approved by voice vote. Congress is out this week for the St. Patrick’s Day recess. -

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