The Staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has prepared the following required notices in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 USC 1681-1681y, requires that this notice be provided to inform users of consumer reports of their legal obligations. State law may impose additional requirements. The text of the FCRA is set forth in full at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) website at (insert link). At the end of this document is a list of United States Code citations for the FCRA. Other information about user duties is also available at the CFPB’s website. Users must consult the relevant provisions of the FCRA for details about their obligations under the FCRA.
The first section of this summary sets forth the responsibilities imposed by the FCRA on all users of consumer reports. The subsequent sections discuss the duties of users of reports that contain specific types of information, or that are used for certain purposes, and the legal consequences of violations. IF you are a furnisher of information to a consumer reporting agency (CRA), you have additional obligations and will receive a separate notice from the CRA describing your duties as a furnisher.
Congress has limited the use of consumer reports to protect consumers’’ privacy. All users must have a permissible purpose under the FCRA to obtain a consumer report. Section 604 contains a list of the permissible purposes under the law. These are:
In addition, creditors and insurers may obtain consumer report information for the purpose of making “prescreened” unsolicited offers of credit or insurance. Section 604(c). The particular obligations of users of “prescreened” information are described in Section VII below.
Section 604(f) prohibits any person from obtaining a consumer report form a consumer reporting agency (CRA) unless the person has certified to the CRA the permissible purpose(s) for which the report is being obtained and certifies that he report will not be used for any other purpose.
The term “adverse action” is defined very broadly y Section 603. “Adverse actions” include all business, credit, and employment actions affecting consumers that can be considered to have a negative impact as defined by Section 603(k) of the FCRA0such as denying or canceling credit or insurance, or denying employment or promotion. No adverse action occurs on ac credit transaction where the creditor makes a counteroffer that is accepted by the consumer.
If a user takes any type of adverse action as defined by the FCRA that is based at least in part on information contained in a consumer report, Section 615(a) requires the user to notify the consumer. The notification may be done in writing, orally, or by electronic means. It must include the following:
If a person denies (or increases the charge for) credit for personal, family, or household purposes based either wholly or partly upon information from a person other than a CRA, and the information is the type of consumer information covered by the FCRA, Section 615(b)(1) requires that the user clearly and accurately disclose to the consumer his or her right to be told the nature of the information that was relied upon if the consumer makes a written request within 60 days of notification. The user must provide the disclosure within a reasonable period of time following the consumer’s written request.
If a person takes an adverse action involving insurance, employment, or a credit transaction initiated by the consumer, based on information of the type covered by the FCRA, and this information was obtained from an entity affiliated with the user of the information by common ownership or control, Section 615(b)(2) required the user to notify the consumer of the adverse action. The notice must information the consumer that he or she may obtain a discloser of the nature of the information relied upon by making a written request within 60 days of receiving the adverse action notice. If the consumer makes such a request, the users must disclose the nature of the information not later than 30 days after receiving the request. If the consumer report information is shared among affiliates and then used for an adverse action, the user must male an adverse action disclosure as set forth in I.C.1 above.
When a consumer has placed a fraud alert, including one relating to identity theft, or an active duty military alert with a nationwide consumer reporting agency as defined in Section 603(p) and resellers, Section 605A(h) imposes limitation on users of reports obtained from the consumer reporting agency in certain circumstances, including the establishment of a new credit plan and the issuance additional credit cards. For initial fraud alerts and active duty alerts, the user must have reasonable policies and procedures in place to form a belief that he user knows the identity of the applicant or contact the consumer at a telephone number specified by the consumer; in the case of extended fraud alerts, the sure must contact the consumer in accordance with the contact information provided in the consumer’s alert.
Section 605(h) requires nationwide CRAs, as defined in Section 604(p), to notify users that request reports when the address for a consumer provided by the user in requesting the report is substantially different form the addresses in the consumer’s file. When this occurs, users must comply with regulation specifying the procedures to be followed. Federal regulations are available at www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore.
Section 628 requires that all users of credit report information have in place procedures to properly dispose of records containing this information. Federal regulations have been issued that cover disposal.
If a person uses a consumer report in connection with an application for, or a grant, extension, or provision of, credit to a consumer on material terms that are materially less favorable than the most favorable terms to a substantial proportion of consumers from or through that person, based in whole or in part on a consumer report, the person must provide a risk-based pricing notice to the consumer in accordance with regulations prescribed by the CFPB.
Section 609(g) requires a disclosure by all persons that make or arrange loans secured by residential real property (one to four unites) and that use credit scores. These persons must provide credit scores and other information about credit scores to applicants, including the disclosure set forth in Section 609(g)(1)(D) (“Notice to the Home Loan Applicant”).
An adverse action notice also is required in employment situations if credit information (other than transactions and experience data) obtained from an affiliate is used to deny employment. Section 615(b)(2).
The procedures for investigative consumer reports and employee misconduct investigations are set forth below.
Special rules apply to truck drivers where the only interaction between the consumer and the potential employer is by mail, telephone, or computer. In this case, the consumer may provide consent orally or electronically, and an adverse action may be made orally, in writing, or electronically, The consumer may obtain a copy of any report relied upon by the trucking company by contacting the company.
Investigative consumer reports are a special type of consumer report in which information about a consumer’s character, general reputation, personal characteristics, and mode of living is obtained through personal interviews by an entity or person that is a consumer reporting agency. Consumers who are the subjects of such reports are given special rights under the FCRA. If a user intends to obtain an investigative consumer report, Section 606 requires the following:
Section 603(x) provides special procedures for investigations of suspected misconduct by an employee or for compliance with Federal, state or local laws and regulations or the rules of a self-regulatory organization, and compliance with written policies of the employer. These investigations are not treated as consumer reports so longs as the employer or its agent complies with the procedures set forth in Section 603(x), and a summary describing the nature and scope of the inquiry is made to the employee if an adverse action is taken based on the investigation.
Section 604(g) limits the use of medical information obtained from consumer reporting agencies (other than payment information that appears in a coded form that does not identify the medical provider). If the information is to be used for an insurance transaction, the consumer must give consent to the user of the report or the information must be coded. If the report is to be used for employment purposes-or in connection with a credit transaction (except as provided in federal regulations) –the consumer must provide specific written consent and the medical information must be relevant. Any user who received medical information shall not disclose the information to any other person (except where necessary to carry out the purpose for which the information was disclosed, or as permitted by statute, regulation or order).
The FCRA permits creditors and insurers to obtain limited consumer report information for use in connection with unsolicited offers of credit or insurance under certain circumstances. Section 603(1). 604(c), 604(e), and 6159(d). This practice is known as “prescreening” and typically involves obtaining from a CRA a list of consumers who meet certain pre-established criteria. If any person intends to use prescreened lists, that person must (1) before the offer is made, establish the criteria that will be relied upon to make the offer and to grant credit or insurance, and (2) maintain such criteria on file for a threeyear period beginning on the date on which the offer is made to each consumer. In addition, any user must provide with each written solicitation a clear and conspicuous statement that:
In addition, the CFPB has established the format, type size, and manner of the disclosure required by Section 615(d), with which users must comply, The relevant regulation is 12 CFR 1022.54.
Section 607(e) requires any person who obtains a consumer report for resale to take the following steps:
Under Section 611(f), if a consumer disputes the accuracy or completeness of information in a report prepared by a reseller, the reseller must determine whether this is a result of an action or omission on its part and, if so, correct, or delete the information. If no, the reseller must send the dispute to the source CRA for reinvestigation. When any CRA notifies the reseller of the results of an investigation, the reseller must immediately convey the information to the consumer.
Section A(f) requires resellers who receive fraud alerts or active duty alerts from another consumer reporting agency to include these in their reports.
Failure to comply with the FCRA can result in state government or federal government enforcement actions, as well as private lawsuits. Sections 616, 617, and 621. In addition, any person who knowingly and willfully obtains a consumer report under false pretenses may face criminal prosecution. Section 619. The CFPB’s website, www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore , has more information about the FCRA, including publications for businesses and the full text of the FCRA.
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C 1681-1681y, imposes responsibilities on all persons who furnish information to consumer reporting agencies (CRAs). These responsibilities are founds in Section 623 of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C 1681s02. State law may impose additional requirements on furnishers. All furnishers of information to CRAs should become familiar with the applicable laws and may want to consult with their counsel to ensure that they are in compliance. The text of the FCRA is available at the website of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore . A list of the sections of the FCRA cross-referenced to the U.S. Code is at the end of this document.
Section 623 imposes the following duties upon furnishers:
The FCRA requires furnishers to comply with federal guidelines and regulations dealing with the accuracy of information provided to CRAs by furnishers. Federal regulations and guidelines are available at www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore. Section 623(e).
The FCRA prohibits information furnishers from providing information to a CRA that they know or have reasonable cause to believe is inaccurate. However, the furnisher is not subject to this general prohibition if it clearly and conspicuously specifies an address to which consumers may write to notify the furnisher that certain information is inaccurate. Sections 623(a)(1)(A) and (a)(1)(C).
If at any time a person who regularly and in the ordinary course of business furnishes information to one or more CRAs determines that the information provided is not complete or accurate, the furnisher must promptly provide complete and accurate information to the CRA. In addition, the furnisher must notify all CRAs that received the information of any corrections, and must thereafter report only the complete and accurate information. Section 623(a)(2).
If a consumer notifies a furnisher, at an address specified for the furnisher for such notices, that specific information is inaccurate, and the information is, in fact, inaccurate, the furnisher must thereafter report the correct information to the CRAs. Section 623(a)(1)(B).
If a consumer notifies a furnisher that the consumer disputes the completeness or accuracy of any information reported by the furnisher, the furnisher may not subsequently report that information to a CRA without providing notice of the dispute. Section 623(a)(3).
Furnishers must comply with federal regulations that identify when an information furnisher must investigate a dispute made directly to the furnisher by a consumer. Under these regulations, furnishers, must complete an investigation within 30 days (or 45 deays, if the consumer later provides relevant additional information) unless the dispute is frivolous or irrelevant or comes from a “credit repair organization.” Section 623(a)(8). Federal regulations are available at www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore . Section 623(a)(8).
If a CRA notifies a furnisher that a consumer disputes the completeness or accuracy of information provided by the furnisher, the furnisher has a duty to follow certain procedures. The furnisher must:
If a consumer voluntarily closes a credit account, any person who regularly and in the ordinary course of business furnished information to one or more CRAs must report this fact when it provides information to CRAs for the time period in which the account closed. Section 623(a)(4).
If a furnisher reports information concerning a delinquent account placed for collection, charged to profit or loss, or subject to any similar action, the furnisher must, within 90 days after reporting the information, provide the CRA with the month and the year of the commencement of the delinquency that immediately preceded the action, so that the agency will know how long to keep the information in the consumer’s file. Section 623(a)(5).
Any person, such as a debt collector, that has acquired or is responsible for collecting delinquent accounts and that reports information to CRAs may comply with the requirements of Section 623(a)(5) (until there is a consumer dispute) by reporting the same delinquency date previously reported by the creditor. If the creditor did not report this date, they may comply with the FCRA by establishing reasonable procedures to obtain and report delinquency dates, or, if a delinquency date cannot be reasonably obtained, by following reasonable procedures to ensure that the date reported precedes the date when the account was placed for collection, charged to profit or loss, or subjected to any similar action. Section 623(a)(5).
Financial institutions that furnish information to “nationwide” consumer reporting agencies, as defined in Section 603(p), must notify consumers in writing if they may furnish or have furnished negative information to a CRA. Section 623(a)(7). The CFPB has prescribed model disclosures, 12 CFR Part 1022, App. B.
A furnisher whose primary business is providing medical services, products, or devices (and such furnisher’s agents or assignees) is a medical information furnisher for the purposes of the FCRA and must notify all CRAs to which it reports of this fact. Section 623(a)(9). This notice will enable CRAs to comply with their duties under Section 604(g) when reporting medical information.
All furnishers must have in place reasonable procedures to respond to notifications from CRAs that information furnished is the result of identity theft, and to prevent refurnishing the information in the future. A furnisher may not furnish information that a consumer has identified as resulting from identity theft unless the furnisher subsequently knows or is informed by the consumer that the information is correct. Section 623(a)(6). If a furnisher learns that it has furnished inaccurate information due to identity theft, it must notify each CRA of the correct information and must thereafter report only complete and accurate information. Section 623(a)(2). When any furnisher of information is notified pursuant to the procedures set forth in Section 605B that a debt has resulted from identity theft, the furnisher may not sell, transfer, or place for collection the debt except in certain limited circumstances. Section 615(f).
The CFPB’s website, www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore, has more information about the FCRA, including publications for business and the full text of the FCRA