Public Interest Groups Warn Asbestos Bill Could Encourage Online Identity Theft

Public interest groups, led by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund, are trying to kill a Republican-backed bill aiming to reduce asbestos lawsuit fraud that could receive a vote Thursday. The so-called Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act would expose more of Americans’ personal data to cyber criminals, they contend.

They insist the measure is a necessary step to better track payouts from asbestos trusts set up to compensate workers and family members injured by a company’s manufacturing of asbestos. Additionally, they say, nearly all people filing claims with asbestos trusts have already filed asbestos lawsuits, which require them to disclose similar personal data.

The groups believe the bill will make it harder for asbestos victims and their families to collect compensation for diseases triggered by the toxic material. It’s estimated that 12,000 to 15,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-related illnesses.

“The FACT Act would create conditions that are ripe for scam artists and identity thieves to prey on all victims of asbestos exposure who have filed claims with trusts established to ensure compensation for harm caused by asbestos corporations,” said a letter sent to House members Tuesday.