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FTC Seeks Comment on Proposed Changes to FCRA Rules for Motor Vehicle Dealers

BY: Nanci Weissgold, Consumer Finance Team
State Capital building

A&B ABstract: The FTC is seeking public comment on proposed changes to five FCRA rules aimed at clarifying that these rules, as promulgated by the FTC, apply only to motor vehicle dealers, as equivalent rules promulgated by the CFPB will apply to other entities.

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has announced it is seeking public comment on proposed changes to existing rules implementing parts of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). According to the FTC, the proposed changes would clarify that five FCRA rules promulgated by the FTC apply only to motor vehicle dealers.

This clarification is needed because after the Dodd-Frank Act transferred to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) the FTC’s rulemaking authority under certain portions of the FCRA, the FTC rescinded several of its FCRA rules, which had been replaced by rules issued by the CFPB. However, the FTC retained rulemaking authority for other rules to the extent the rules apply to motor vehicle dealers (as defined in the Dodd-Frank Act) that are predominantly engaged in the sale and servicing of motor vehicles, the leasing and servicing of motor vehicles, or both.

In particular, the rule changes (each of which are addressed in separate Notices of Proposed Rule Making) would apply to the following five rules:

  1. The Address Discrepancy Rule (16 CFR Part 641), which outlines the obligations of users of consumer reports when they receive a notice of address discrepancy from a nationwide consumer reporting agency (“CRA”);
  2. The Affiliate Marketing Rule (16 CFR Part 680), which gives consumers the right to restrict a person from using certain information obtained from an affiliate to make solicitations to the consumer;
  3. The Furnisher Rule (16 CFR Part 660), which requires entities that furnish information to CRAs to establish and implement reasonable written policies and procedures regarding the accuracy and integrity of the information relating to consumers provided to a CRA;
  4. The Pre-screen Opt-Out Notice Rule (16 CFR Parts 642 and 698), which outlines requirements for those who use consumer report information to make unsolicited credit or insurance offers to consumers; and
  5. The Risk-Based Pricing Rule (16 CFR Part 640), which requires those who use information from a consumer report to offer less favorable terms to consumers to provide them with a notice about the use of such data.

Each of these FTC rules, as revised, will be limited in scope to apply only in relation to motor vehicle dealers, subject to certain exceptions, and those persons and entities originally covered by these rules who are not motor vehicle dealers remain subject to similar rulemakings promulgated by the CFPB. For example, with regard to the Pre-screen Opt-Out Notice Rule, the proposed amendment would replace the general term “person” with the term “motor vehicle dealers,” as defined, thus narrowing the scope of the rule to entities that are “predominantly engaged in the sale and servicing of motor vehicles, excluding those dealers that directly extend credit to consumers and do not routinely assign the extensions of credit to an unaffiliated third party.” The proposed rule amendments also reinstate certain model notices that are otherwise identical to the CFPB’s model notices applicable to certain entities that are not motor vehicle dealers.

Additionally, the FTC is seeking comment on the effectiveness of these five rules including the following considerations:

  • whether there is a continuing need for specific provisions of each rule;
  • the benefits each rule has provided to consumers;
  • what modifications, if any, should be made to each rule to benefit consumers and businesses; and
  • what modifications, if any, should be made to each rule to account for changes in relevant technology or economic conditions.

Takeaways: These proposed amendments to the relevant FCRA rules will serve to clarify the distinction between the rules applicable to motor vehicle dealers – promulgated by the FTC ­– and rules applicable to other entities, which have been issued by the CFPB.  Comments on these issues must be submitted to the FTC within 75 days from the date the notices of proposed rulemaking are published in the Federal Register. Instructions on how to file comments will be included in the notices published in the Federal Register.

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