Consumer Groups Weigh in On Military Credit Monitoring

In comments filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumer groups including CFA offer their suggestions on how the FTC should implement free electronic credit monitoring services for active duty military consumers, as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The requirement for these services was established by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (EGRRCPA) of 2018. The groups’ key points are:

  • The FTC should include as part of any “electronic credit monitoring service” free online access to credit reports when an active duty military consumer receives notification of a material addition or modification to their credit file. Otherwise, there is a significant risk that the nationwide consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) will entice active duty military consumers into paying expensive monthly fees to subscribe to paid access to their own credit reports. Our men and women in uniform deserve free access to online credit reports as part of their right to electronic credit monitoring.
  • We support the FTC’s proposed definition of “material additions and modifications,” including the exclusion of prescreening and account review inquiries.
  • The FTC must tailor the requirement for “appropriate proof of identity” to accommodate the special circumstances of active duty military consumers. In general, the nationwide CRAs’ identification requirements are overly difficult for consumers to meet, and are more demanding than what the nationwide CRAs require from consumers paying for their reports.
  • We support the use, disclosure and advertising restrictions proposed by the FTC, which are appropriate and necessary to protect the privacy interests of active duty military consumers and prevent inappropriate use of their information.
  • We support the FTC’s proposal to prohibit the nationwide CRAs from asking or requiring an active duty military consumer to agree to terms or conditions in connection with obtaining the free electronic credit monitoring service that the CRAs are obligated to provide. This prohibition is necessary and appropriate, especially to prevent active duty military consumers from being compelled to agree to forced arbitration provisions in order to exercise their right to electronic credit monitoring services.

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