Fair Credit Reporting Act – Overview

Cite this article as: Jason Mance Gordon, "Fair Credit Reporting Act – Overview," in The Business Professor, updated January 17, 2015, last accessed April 6, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/knowledge-base/fair-credit-reporting-act/.
Video Thumbnail
Fair Credit Reporting Act
This video provides an overview of the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA.

Next Article: Fair Credit Reporting Act – Users of Information

Back to: CONSUMER PROTECTION

What is the “Fair Credit Reporting Act”?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act protects consumers (not businesses) by regulating the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information reported to or held by consumer reporting agencies. It protects consumers from the negative consequences associated with inaccurate information in their personal credit reports. The FCRA regulates each stage of the credit reporting process, including collection of information, reporting of that information to credit agencies, dissemination of credit information, and use of a consumer’s credit information (such as in extending new credit). The Act applies to anyone who prepares or uses a credit report in connection with extending credit, selling insurance, or hiring or firing an employee.

A Little More on the Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Federal Trade Commission, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, developed by FCRA, oversee and implement the Act provisions. The FCRA is in U.S. Code Title 15, Section 1681. The primary provisions include:

◦ Obtaining Credit Reports – Section 604 of the FCRA states that the permissible purposes for obtaining consumer credit reports. The reasons include:
⁃ Review of credit info for credit application,
⁃ Background checks or the consumer’s request for the same.
⁃ Other: court order, child support and business dealings.

• Reporting Standards for Credit Information – The FCRA also imposes standards for determining the validity of credit information on credit reports as well as the nature of information. It established a trade line for consumer’s credit account with reporting agencies. The trade line records the consumer’s info reported by a creditors and other information about child support liability, tax liability, and bankruptcy.

• Duration of Consumer Information – The FCRA established the length of time that negative credit information can remain in an individual’s record. Some reported elements are releases after a short time, while ore extreme elements remain on report for 7 years, or even 10 years, like in the case of bankruptcy.

The FCRA gives consumers the right to:

• Know their file’s content
• Have free of cost file disclosure once a year from all key credit bureaus
• Have report accuracy determined for employment purpose
• Notification for file issuance
• File dispute to correct incorrect or incomplete info
• Request removal of old negative info

Note: The FCRA was amended in 2003 (by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act) to allow consumers to receive one copy of their credit reports each year from each credit reporting agency. It also established rules for credit reporting agencies and businesses to increase identity theft protections. These provisions include placing fraud alerts on credit reports, truncation of debit and credit card numbers, secure disposal of consumer information, etc.

Example: You walk into my store and ask to finance the purchase of a large piece of machinery that I sell. I may request authorization to request your credit report. My request and use of this credit report in my decision of whether to extend you credit will be governed by the FCRA.

References fro Fair Credit Reporting Act

Academic Research on Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Common Law Defamation and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Maurer, V. G. (1983). Geo. LJ72, 95.

Fair Credit Reporting Act, Act, F. C. R. (2009). Flood Disaster Protection Act and Financial Institute.

How the fair credit reporting act regulates big data, Hoofnagle, C. (2013). This paper is a documentation of observations about big data prepared for the Future of Privacy Forum’s Big Data and Privacy.

Rethinking the Fair Credit Reporting Act: When requesting credit reports for employment purposes goes too far, Gallagher, K. (2005). Iowa L. Rev.91, 1593. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, tort law, discrimination law, and state statutes offer employees inadequate protection from employers who make good credit histories a condition of employment. This paper proposes different amendments to the FCRA for better performance, and employee protection.

Access to Fair Credit Reports: Current Practices and Proposed Legislation, Fisher, J. F. (1981). American Business Law Journal19(3), 319-342.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act: A Legislative Overview, McNamara Jr, R. M. (1973). J. Pub. L.22, 67.

An overview and history of credit reporting, Furletti, M. J. (2002). This paper includes a short history of credit reporting, an overview of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and a review of credit reporting company markets and uses. Information from the TransUnion workshop held on 05, April, 2002 is supplemented by additional research.

Consumer Credit Reports and Privacy in the Employment Context: The Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Equal Employment for All Act, Desmond, R. (2009). Usfl Rev.44, 907.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act-From the Regulators Vantage Point, Feldman, S. (1973). Santa Clara Lawyer14, 459.

Getting credit where credit is due: Proposed changes in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Maurer, V. G., & Thomas, R. E. (1996). Am. Bus. LJ34, 607.

Solving Statute of Limitations Problems Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Davis, M. F. (1985). Ind. L. Rev.18, 507.

Selling consumers not lists: the new world of digital decision-making and the role of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Mierzwinski, E., & Chester, J. (2013). Suffolk UL Rev.46, 845. This Article explores the new world of financial decision-making, which draws on a range of Internet techniques. It analyses the expansion of financial firms into into areas currently unregulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), like online marketing and sales. It debates on the need of the FCRA to be updated to cover credit transactions over the internet. It also analyses different questions posed by scholars and other individuals.

Fair credit reporting act developments, McEneney, M. F., & Kaufmann, K. F. (2003). Bus. Law.59, 1215.

Was this article helpful?