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First American CREDCO Offers Screening Product for Patriot Act Compliance

February 26, 2003

First American CREDCO, a provider of specialty credit reporting and business information products, on Feb. 26 announced the availability of an Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) alert feature that allows credit grantors, as well as dealers in the recreation vehicle, manufactured housing and automobile industries to automatically screen customers against a list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) and Blocked Persons when requesting a credit report

Under the USA PATRIOT Act and the regulations set by OFAC, it is illegal to facilitate a financial transaction with anyone labeled an SDN or Blocked Person. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in criminal prosecution and fines of up to $10 million.

The SDN list is publicly available; however, it is very difficult and labor intensive to manually search against this extensive and regularly changing list, according to First American CREDCO.

CREDCO says its customers can choose to receive OFAC alerts from any of the three national credit bureaus (Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion) automatically with any credit report. Alerts are based on a database search of more than 5,000 names maintained by OFAC.

A “hit” message is delivered with the credit report whenever a match has been found. While the OFAC alert is delivered along with the credit report, it is not part of the report and cannot be used as a factor in determining a consumer's creditworthiness. Automobile dealers and credit grantors must enact their own policies and procedures, in accordance with the law, for handling OFAC alerts.

“The government is beginning to strictly enforce compliance with the regulations established under the USA PATRIOT Act,” said Todd Bishop, senior vice president of First American CREDCO's Consumer Products Division. “As our customers put compliance programs in place, we are presenting an alternative to the tedious job of manually screening customers and applicants. Unlike some of the alternative OFAC screening products, the delivery of the alert with the consumer's credit report requires no additional development or interfacing. Our system also allows us to track each search so that our customers can obtain proof of compliance, if necessary.”

OFAC is the branch of the U.S. Department of the Treasury responsible for enforcing national security policies related to the Treasury Department, such as the USA PATRIOT Act. OFAC has the authority to exact control over financial transactions occurring under US jurisdiction.

The USA PATRIOT Act, formally known as the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, is the comprehensive anti-terrorism legislation that was signed into law on Oct. 25, 2001, as a result of the events of Sept. 11. Under the USA PATRIOT Act, financial institutions, securities firms and insurance companies are required by law to block or freeze property, payment or transfer of funds and transactions with anyone on this list.

Automobile finance and insurance offices are considered an extension of the financial institution providing the loan in this context.

About First American CREDCO

First American CREDCO, a member of The First American Family of Companies, processes millions of credit transactions annually.

The company says its processes more than 100,000 credit reports daily, and provides specialty credit reports to the mortgage, consumer finance, and automotive industries.

About The First American Corporation

The First American Corporation is a Fortune 500 company that traces its history to 1889.

As a diversified provider of business information, the company supplies businesses and consumers with the information resources that affect the major economic events of people's lives, such as getting a job; renting an apartment; buying a car, house, boat or airplane; securing a mortgage; opening or buying a business; and planning for retirement.

The First American Family of Companies, many of which, according to the company, command leading market share positions in their respective industries, operate within seven primary business segments including: Title Insurance and Services, Specialty Insurance, Trust and Other Services, Mortgage Information, Property Information, Credit Information and Screening Information.

With revenues of $4.70 billion in 2002, First American has approximately 25,000 employees in more than 1,300 offices throughout the United States and abroad.

More information about the company can be found at www.firstam.com.

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