In November 2007, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) issued sweeping regulations aimed at deterring, detecting and preventing identity theft. Under these rules, known as the Red Flag Regulations, 16 C.F.R. § 681.1 et seq. and Final Rule (“Red Flag Regulations”), financial institutions and creditors of covered accounts must establish a program to detect, prevent and mitigate identity theft. While somewhat unclear and perhaps counterintuitive, the breadth of the Red Flag Regulations and the FTC’s current interpretation indicates that these rules apply to many participants in the health care industry. The rules become effective November 1, 2008.

The Red Flag Regulations have three parts, two of which pertain to the health care industry. The first part applies to anyone who uses “consumer reports” for employment, insurance or credit purposes. The second part places obligations on “creditors and financial institutions” to detect, prevent and mitigate identity theft in relation to accounts covered under the Red Flag Regulations. This Client Alert addresses each part in turn.