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Taking Credit

Washington shields businesses from identity theft losses.

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This story appears in the December 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

After a troubling report from the FTC on identity theft, Congress is moving to make it easier for small businesses to prevent losses caused by thieves who have stolen someone's credit card. The House passed the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (H.R. 2622) a week after the FTC report was issued.

Joe Rubin, executive director of technology and e-commerce for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says the bill will help entrepreneurs in two ways: by protecting their credit rating and by shielding them from losses from identity theft. The bill accomplishes this by allowing consumers to issue "fraud alerts" to credit bureaus. This would ostensibly stop banks from opening bogus accounts for thieves in the name of someone whose identity they've stolen (via a credit card or bank account number). "Small-business people finance themselves using their own credit cards, second mortgages and personal lines of credit during lean times," Rubin says. "This bill protects that ability."

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