FTC Red Flag Rules
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) “Red Flags Rules” scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2011 (http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/04/redflagsrule.shtm). Counties who charge for their ambulance service may be considered “creditors” with “covered accounts” for purposes of this federal regulation because their service (i.e., emergency treatment and transport) is provided before it is paid for by the patient. If the county allows patients to make multiple payments or if it is reasonably foreseeable that the account could be affected by identify theft, then the county may be subject to the Red Flags Rules.
In order to comply, counties may be required to establish reasonable processes and procedures to combat identity theft (i.e., an Identity Theft Prevention Program) in connection with the payment for ambulance services. An Identity Theft Prevention Program must be formally approved by the local governing authority. The local governing authority should also designate an employee to oversee the development, implementation and administration of the program, which must include staff training. For more on how to comply with the Red Flags Rule, the FTC has prepared, “Fighting Fraud with the Red Flags Rule” to assist organizations in implementing a written Identity Theft Prevention Program designed to detect the warning signs of identity theft at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/redflagsrule/index.shtml.
Commissioners should discuss the FTC rules with their county attorney to see whether their ambulance service (or any other county service) is subject to the Red Flags Rule.
For more information on the FTC’s Red Flag Rule for ambulance and other health care providers, please see this link: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/articles/art11.shtm.