New FTC rule requires widespread, bank-like protection of consumer IDs

A new Federal Trade Commission rule to curb identity theft will soon require businesses and organizations across various industries to develop anti-fraud defenses as strong as those of banks and financial institutions.

The regulation, known as the Red Flags Rule, will require mortgage and auto loan issuers, wireless carriers, and other potential targets for identity thieves to better catch warning signs and thwart fraud threats.

"The identity theft prevention programs must be designed to help identify, detect, and respond to patterns, practices, or specific activities - known as 'red flags' - that could indicate identity theft," said FTC spokesman Frank Dorman.

The new rule is designed to cover many more types of "creditors" by applying that term broadly to any business that regularly provides goods and services first and allows customers to pay later, according to a guide prepared by the FTC.