FTC Delays Red Flag Rules Affecting Social Workers in Private Practice

Jun 2, 2010

Effective June 1, 2010, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has once again delayed enforcement of the “Red Flags” Rule through December 31, 2010. The FTC stated this new delay is necessary to allow time for Congress to consider legislation that would affect the scope of entities covered by the Rule. Institutions will remain under the original November 1, 2008, deadline for compliance.


The Rule was developed under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, in which Congress directed the FTC to develop regulations requiring creditors and financial institutions to address the risk of identity theft. The resulting “Red Flags” Rule requires all entities that have covered accounts to develop and implement written identity theft prevention programs to help identify, detect, and respond to patterns, practices, or specific activities – known as “red flags” – that could indicate identity theft. All health care practitioners, including clinical social workers, were originally included for enforcement oversight. FTC action today again temporarily suspends their inclusion under the rule, and the Commission urged Congress to act quickly to pass legislation that will resolve questions as to which entities are covered by the Rule.


The “Red Flags” Rules would require many businesses and organizations to implement a written identity theft prevention program designed to detect the warning signs of identity theft in their day-to-day operations. As written, the rules would apply to a wide variety of independent health professionals, including physicians and clinical social workers, in small private and group practices. The Rule’s applicability to health care professionals, particularly small-scale practitioners, is highly controversial.  More information is available at the FTC website here. NASW provided information about the identity theft regulations in the June 2009 LDF Legal Issue of the Month. The article may be accessed here, and members must login in with their userID and password. For more background on NASW activity, please see our recent article in, “News from the Hill,” here: NASW Advocacy Blog.


For information about the Qualified Clinical Social Worker Credential, go here.


For information about the Private Practice Specialty Practice Section, go here.


For information on Clinical Social Work Practice, go here.


For publications on clinical social work practice, go here.

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