FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT (FCRA)
§ 1681. Congressional findings and statement of purpose
- Accuracy and fairness of credit reporting
The Congress makes the following findings:
- The banking system is dependent upon fair and accurate credit reporting. Inaccurate credit reports directly impair the efficiency of the banking system, and unfair credit reporting methods undermine the public confidence which is essential to the continued functioning of the banking system.
- An elaborate mechanism has been developed for investigating and evaluating the credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, and general reputation of consumers.
- Consumer reporting agencies have assumed a vital role in assembling and evaluating consumer credit and other information on consumers.
- There is a need to insure that consumer reporting agencies exercise their grave responsibilities with fairness, impartiality, and a respect for the consumer’s right to privacy.
- Reasonable procedures
It is the purpose of this subchapter to require that consumer reporting agencies adopt reasonable procedures for meeting the needs of commerce for consumer credit, personnel, insurance, and other information in a manner which is fair and equitable to the consumer, with regard to the confidentiality, accuracy, relevancy, and proper utilization of such information in accordance with the requirements of this subchapter.
§ 1681a. Definitions; rules of construction
A. Definitions and rules of construction set forth in this section are applicable for the purposes of this subchapter.
B. The term “person” means any individual, partnership, corporation, trust, estate, cooperative, association, government or governmental subdivision or agency, or other entity.
C. The term “consumer” means an individual.
D. Consumer report.–
- In general.–The term “consumer report” means any written, oral, or other communication of any information by a consumer reporting agency bearing on a consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living which is used or expected to be used or collected in whole or in part for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing the consumer’s eligibility for–
- credit or insurance to be used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes;
- employment purposes; or
- any other purpose authorized under section 1681b of this title.
- Exclusions.–The term “consumer report” does not include–
- report containing information solely as to transactions or experiences between the consumer and the person making the report;
- communication of that information among persons related by common ownership or affiliated by corporate control; or
- communication of other information among persons related by common ownership or affiliated by corporate control, if it is clearly and conspicuously disclosed to the consumer that the information may be communicated among such persons and the consumer is given the opportunity, before the time that the information is initially communicated, to direct that such information not be communicated among such persons;
- any authorization or approval of a specific extension of credit directly or indirectly by the issuer of a credit card or similar device;
- any report in which a person who has been requested by a third party to make a specific extension of credit directly or indirectly to a consumer conveys his or her decision with respect to such request, if the third party advises the consumer of the name and address of the person to whom the request was made, and such person makes the disclosures to the consumer required under section 1681m of this title; or
- a communication described in subsection (o) of this section.
- The term “investigative consumer report” means a consumer report or portion thereof in which information on a consumer’s character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living is obtained through personal interviews with neighbors, friends, or associates of the consumer reported on or with others with whom he is acquainted or who may have knowledge concerning any such items of information. However, such information shall not include specific factual information on a consumer’s credit record obtained directly from a creditor of the consumer or from a consumer reporting agency when such information was obtained directly from a creditor of the consumer or from the consumer.
- The term “consumer reporting agency” means any person which, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties, and which uses any means or facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of preparing or furnishing consumer reports.
- The term “file”, when used in connection with information on any consumer, means all of the information on that consumer recorded and retained by a consumer reporting agency regardless of how the information is stored.
- The term “employment purposes” when used in connection with a consumer report means a report used for the purpose of evaluating a consumer for employment, promotion, reassignment or retention as an employee.
- The term “medical information” means information or records obtained, with the consent of the individual to whom it relates, from licensed physicians or medical practitioners, hospitals, clinics, or other medical or medically related facilities.
- Definitions relating to child support obligations
- Overdue support
The term “overdue support” has the meaning given to such term in section 666(e) of Title 42.
- State or local child support enforcement agency
The term “State or local child support enforcement agency” means a State or local agency which administers a State or local program for establishing and enforcing child support obligations.
- Adverse action.–
- Actions included.–The term “adverse action”–
- (A) has the same meaning as in section 1691(d)(6) of this title; and
- (B) means–
- a denial or cancellation of, an increase in any charge for, or a reduction or other adverse or unfavorable change in the terms of coverage or amount of, any insurance, existing or applied for, in connection with the underwriting of insurance;
- a denial of employment or any other decision for employment purposes that adversely affects any current or prospective employee;
- a denial or cancellation of, an increase in any charge for, or any other adverse or unfavorable change in the terms of, any license or benefit described in section 1681b(a)(3)(D) of this title; and
- an action taken or determination that is–
- made in connection with an application that was made by, or a transaction that was initiated by, any consumer, or in connection with a review of an account under section 1681b(a)(3)(F)(ii) of this title; and
- adverse to the interests of the consumer.
- Applicable findings, decisions, commentary, and orders.–For purposes of any determination of whether an action is an adverse action under paragraph (1)(A), all appropriate final findings, decisions, commentary, and orders issued under section 1691(d)(6) of this title by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System or any court shall apply.
- Firm offer of credit or insurance.–The term “firm offer of credit or insurance” means any offer of credit or insurance to a consumer that will be honored if the consumer is determined, based on information in a consumer report on the consumer, to meet the specific criteria used to select the consumer for the offer, except that the offer may be further conditioned on one or more of the following:
- The consumer being determined, based on information in the consumer’s application for the credit or insurance, to meet specific criteria bearing on credit worthiness or insurability, as applicable, that are established–
- before selection of the consumer for the offer; and
- for the purpose of determining whether to extend credit or insurance pursuant to the offer.
- that the consumer continues to meet the specific criteria used to select the consumer for the offer, by using information in a consumer report on the consumer, information in the consumer’s application for the credit or insurance, or other information bearing on the credit worthiness or insurability of the consumer; or
- of the information in the consumer’s application for the credit or insurance, to determine that the consumer meets the specific criteria bearing on credit worthiness or insurability.
- The consumer furnishing any collateral that is a requirement for the extension of the credit or insurance that was–
- established before selection of the consumer for the offer of credit or insurance; and
- disclosed to the consumer in the offer of credit or insurance.
- Credit or insurance transaction that is not initiated by the consumer.– The term “credit or insurance transaction that is not initiated by the consumer” does not include the use of a consumer report by a person with which the consumer has an account or insurance policy, for purposes of–
- reviewing the account or insurance policy; or
- collecting the account.
- State.–The term “State” means any State, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and any territory or possession of the United States.
- Excluded communications.–A communication is described in this subsection if it is a communication–
- that, but for subsection (d)(2)(D) of this section, would be an investigative consumer report;
- that is made to a prospective employer for the purpose of–
- procuring an employee for the employer; or
- procuring an opportunity for a natural person to work for the employer;
- that is made by a person who regularly performs such procurement;
- that is not used by any person for any purpose other than a purpose described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (2); and
- with respect to which–
- the consumer who is the subject of the communication–
- consents orally or in writing to the nature and scope of the communication, before the collection of any information for the purpose of making the communication;
- consents orally or in writing to the making of the communication to a prospective employer, before the making of the communication; and
- in the case of consent under clause (i) or (ii) given orally, is provided written confirmation of that consent by the person making the communication, not later than 3 business days after the receipt of the consent by that person;
- the person who makes the communication does not, for the purpose of making the communication, make any inquiry that if made by a prospective employer of the consumer who is the subject of the communication would violate any applicable Federal or State equal employment opportunity law or regulation; and
- the person who makes the communication–
- discloses in writing to the consumer who is the subject of the communication, not later than 5 business days after receiving any request from the consumer for such disclosure, the nature and substance of all information in the consumer’s file at the time of the request, except that the sources of any information that is acquired solely for use in making the communication and is actually used for no other purpose, need not be disclosed other than under appropriate discovery procedures in any court of competent jurisdiction in which an action is brought; and
- notifies the consumer who is the subject of the communication, in writing, of the consumer’s right to request the information described in clause (i)
- Consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis.–The term “consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis” means a consumer reporting agency that regularly engages in the practice of assembling or evaluating, and maintaining, for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties bearing on a consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, or credit capacity, each of the following regarding consumers residing nationwide:
- Public record information.
- Credit account information from persons who furnish that information regularly and in the ordinary course of business.