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Fair Credit Reporting Act - Not Just About Credit Bureaus

When it comes to reviewing your credit report, we are all aware of the big three credit bureaus, Trans Union, Experian and Equifax. The Fair Credit Reporting Act charges these companies, and any companies that furnish information to them, with certain responsibilities to maintain maximum accuracy in reporting. But are those three the only credit reporting agencies that have responsibilities under the FCRA? Not at all.

The FCRA requires maximum accuracy in the creation and sale of "consumer reports," and places responsibilities upon "consumer reporting agencies" to investigate into claimed inaccuracies by consumers. The FCRA defines a "consumer reporting agency" as "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."

This definition tells us that not just the three most well known credit bureaus are responsible under the Act. Those same companies that give your mortgage broker a report containing information from Trans Union, Experian and Equifax, which are often referred to as "re-sellers" of credit reports, are also consumer reporting agencies" under the law. As a regular practice, and for a fee, they assemble consumer credit information for the purpose of furnishing to third parties (a mortgage lender), and they use means of interstate commerce for the purpose of preparing or furnishing those reports. 

What exactly is a "consumer report" under the FCRA? The term "consumer report" is defined as any 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 for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing the consumer's eligibility for credit, insurance or employment purposes. 

This definition is very broad and encompasses much more than just whether we pay our bills on time. By including terms such as "character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living" Congress intended to protect consumers from a wide array of information that may be published about them not just your bill payment history. This can encompass nearly any kind of background report. Therefore, if such a report is made by a company that regularly sells such information, the Fair Credit Reporting Act is implicated. These companies must provide information with maximum possible accuracy, and must respond to a consumer's dispute and request for a re-investigation into the account.

SmithMarco, P.C., has over 30 years of combined experience practicing law protecting the rights of consumers around the country and handles Fair Credit Reporting Act cases. If information about you is inaccurately being reported, or if you feel that you're rights have been violated, please contact us for a free case review.

 

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