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Friday, February 17, 2012

Fair Credit Reporting Act: Rights and Responsibilities

Margaret Mikyung Lee
Legislative Attorney

The purpose of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is “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.” The FCRA establishes consumers’ rights in relation to their credit reports, as well as permissible uses of credit reports. It also imposes certain responsibilities on those who collect, furnish, and use the information contained in consumers’ credit reports.

The FCRA has been amended several times over the last decade. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACT Act,
P.L. 108-159) amended the FCRA to include a number of provisions aimed at preventing identity theft and assisting victims. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (Credit CARD Act, P.L. 111-24) strengthened protections for young consumers and advertising disclosures regarding free credit reports from consumer reporting agencies. More recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (P.L. 111-203), established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and transferred administrative functions, including most rulemaking and reporting, as well as certain enforcement functions, from other federal agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Reserve Board, to the Bureau. For more information on the functions of the new Bureau, see CRS Report R41338, The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Title X, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, by David H. Carpenter.

This report discusses consumers’ rights under the FCRA, as well as the type of information included in credit reports, permissible uses of credit reports, disclosure requirements, and requirements for users of consumer credit reports and furnishers of information. It also addresses FCRA provisions aimed at preventing identity theft and assisting victims of identity theft. For further information on laws and issues related to identity theft, see CRS Report R40599, Identity Theft: Trends and Issues, by Kristin M. Finklea, and CRS Report RL31919, Federal Laws Related to Identity Theft, by Gina Stevens. For information on data security and the legislative efforts regarding such, see CRS Report RL34120, Federal Information Security and Data Breach Notification Laws, by Gina Stevens, and CRS Report RL33273, Data Security: Federal Legislative Approaches, by Gina Stevens.

Date of Report: February
2, 2012
Number of Pages:
Order Number: RL3
Price: $29.95

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