A federal appeals court in Washington wrangled today with the definitions of “credit” and “any person” as it tried to determine whether the Federal Trade Commission overstepped its authority in regulating the legal profession.

The panel’s three judges asked skeptical questions of both lawyers in a case between the FTC and the American Bar Association. The ABA sued the FTC on behalf of lawyers trying to win an exemption from the “Red Flags Rule,” a new regulatory scheme designed to prevent identity theft among creditors. The ABA won a lower court ruling in December 2009.

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