Fair Credit Reporting Act: Rights and Responsibilities
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) establishes a consumer’s rights in relation to his or her
credit report. It also imposes certain responsibilities on those who collect, furnish and use the
information contained in a consumer’s credit report. This report discusses a consumer’s rights
under the FCRA, as well as the type of information included in a consumer’s credit report,
permissible uses for credit reports, disclosure requirements, and requirements for users of
consumer credit reports and furnishers of information. Also addressed are amendments made by
the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 to the FCRA aimed at preventing identity
theft and assisting victims.
Congress is currently considering legislation that would amend the FCRA to include provisions
related to data security and information brokers. For information on data security and the
legislative efforts regarding such, see CRS Report RL33273, Data Security: Federal Legislative
Approaches, by Gina Marie Stevens.
Introduc tion ............................................................................................................................... 1
Information Included in a Consumer Credit Report..................................................................1
Permissible Uses of Consumer Credit Reports.........................................................................3
Responsibilities of Consumer Reporting Agencies...................................................................6
Responsibilities of Furnishers of Information...........................................................................7
Requirements on Users of Consumer Reports..........................................................................8
Identity Theft Provisions...........................................................................................................9
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................10
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was enacted on October 26, 1970.1 The purpose of the
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, 2
relevancy, and proper utilization of such information.” The FCRA establishes consumer’s rights
in relation to his or her credit report, as well as permissible uses for credit reports, disclosure
requirements, and requirements for users of consumer credit reports and furnishers of
The Fair Credit Reporting Act applies to the files maintained by “consumer reporting agencies,” a
term broadly defined to include anyone in the business of furnishing reports on the credit 3
worthiness of consumers to third parties. Consumer reporting agencies are also commonly
known as credit bureaus or credit reporting agencies. A consumer reporting agency “is essentially
a clearinghouse for information supplied by credit grantors and collection agencies, and culled by 4
the bureau itself from public records.” In addition to several thousand small bureaus that often
serve limited geographic areas, there are three major consumer reporting agencies that operate on
a nationwide basis—Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. These three agencies often compete
among themselves and with smaller regional credit bureaus. Information on a particular consumer
may be maintained by any one or all of the consumer reporting agencies serving a particular
In addition to the specific provisions regarding the credit reporting industry, the FCRA was 5
amended by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACT) to include a number
of provisions aimed at preventing identity theft and assisting victims. These provisions will be 6
discussed in detail infra.
During the 110th Congress, Congress is considering legislation that would amend the FCRA to
include provisions related to data security and information brokers. For information on data
security and the legislative efforts regarding such, see CRS Report RL33273, Data Security:
Federal Legislative Approaches, by Gina Marie Stevens.
Consumer credit reports generally include information about a consumer’s “credit worthiness,
credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of
1 P L. 91-508, tit. 6, § 601, 84 Stat. 1128, 15 U.S.C. 1681 et. seq.
2 15 U.S.C. 1681(b).
3 15 U.S.C. 1681a(f). 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
4 Frederick H. Miller, et al., Consumer Law: Cases, Problems, and Materials, p. 296.
5 P.L. 108-159, 117 Stat. 1952.
6 More information on these provisions and other issues related to identity theft can be found in CRS Report RL31919,
Remedies Available to Victims of Identity Theft, by Gina Marie Stevens.
living.”7 The FCRA explicitly excludes certain types of financial reports from the definition of a
consumer report. For example, “any report containing information solely as to transactions or
experiences between the consumer and the person making the report” is excluded from the
definition of consumer report, as are communications of that information among persons related 8
by common ownership. Authorizations or approvals of specific extensions of credit by the issuer 9
of a credit card are also excluded from the definition of consumer report.
With relatively few exceptions, there appears to be a consensus among the consumer reporting 10
agencies as to exactly what types of information should be reported. Information reported by a
credit bureau commonly includes “identifying information, usually the individual’s full name,
Social Security number, address, telephone number, and spouse’s name; financial status and
employment information, including income, spouse’s income, place, position, and tenure of
employment, other sources of income, duration, and income in former employment; credit
history, including types of credit previously obtained, names of previous credit grantors, extent of
previous credit, and complete payment history; existing lines of credit, including payment habits
and all outstanding obligations; public record information, including pertinent newspaper 11
clippings, arrest and conviction records, bankruptcies, tax liens, and lawsuits; and finally a 12
listing of bureau subscribers that have previously asked for a credit report on the individual.”
The Fair Credit Reporting Act limits the amount of time that adverse or negative information can
be included in a consumer’s credit report. Generally, a credit reporting agency is prohibited from
reporting adverse information that is more than seven years old, or in the case of bankruptcies, 13
more than ten years old. If a bankruptcy filed under title 11 of the United States Code is
included on a consumer’s report, the report shall also identify the chapter under which the case 14
arose, if such information is provided by the source of the information. If a bankruptcy case or
filing under title 11 of the United States Code is withdrawn by the consumer before a final 15
judgment, the report must include the fact that the case or filing was withdrawn.
In addition to adverse credit information, consumer reporting agencies are also allowed to include
information on a consumer’s failure to pay overdue child support, if such information has been
provided to the agency by a state or local child support enforcement agency or verified by any
state or federal government agency. This information remains on the consumer report for up to 16
7 15 U.S.C. 1681a(d)(1).
8 15 U.S.C. 1681a(d)(2)(A).
9 15 U.S.C. 1681a(d)(2)(B).
10 Miller, supra footnote 4.
11 Experian does not maintain information concerning arrests, indictments, or convictions; see
12 Miller, supra footnote 4.
13 15 U.S.C. 1681c(a). The seven and ten year reporting limitations do not apply to transactions involving, or which
may be expected to involve, an amount greater than $150,000; the underwriting of life insurance involving, or which
may involve, an amount of $150,000 or more; or to the employment of any individual at an annual salary which equals,
or may be expected to equal, more than $75,000. 15 U.S.C. 1681c(b). Information regarding certain types of student
loans may be reported until the loan is paid in full. 20 U.S.C. 1087cc(c)(3).
14 15 U.S.C. 1681c(d).
16 15 U.S.C. 1681s-1.
Medical information may be included in consumer reports under certain special circumstances 17
and if procedures are followed to protect the confidentiality of such information.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act outlines the purposes for which a consumer credit report may be 18
furnished to a requester. In general, a consumer reporting agency may furnish a copy of a
consumer’s report to a person the agency has reason to believe intends to use the information for
the purpose of extending credit to the consumer, or for review or collection of the consumer’s 19
account. Consumer credit reports may also be issued where there is a “legitimate business need”
for the information contained in the report in connection with a business transaction initiated by
the consumer, or for purposes of reviewing an existing account to determine whether the 20
consumer continues to meet the terms of the account.
In addition to the use of consumer reports for credit related purposes, an insurer may obtain a
copy of a consumer’s report in connection with the underwriting of an insurance policy involving 21
the consumer for which the consumer has applied.
Reports may be issued in connection with transactions not initiated by the consumer only if the
consumer authorizes the reporting agency to provide such reports, or if the transaction consists of
a firm offer for credit or insurance, and the consumer has not elected to have his name removed 22
from lists provided by the agency for this purpose. A consumer may elect to have his name
removed from such lists by notifying the reporting agency that he does not consent to the release 23
of reports for this purpose. If the consumer has not authorized the release of such reports, but
has not elected to have his name removed from the lists, the agency may release only certain
information about the consumer. Information released for transactions not initiated by the
consumer is limited to the name and address of the consumer, an identifier that is not unique to
the consumer and that is used solely for the purpose of verifying the consumer’s identity, and
other information pertaining to a consumer that does not identify the relationship or experience of 24
the consumer with respect to a particular creditor or other entity.
17 P.L. 108-159, Section 411 and 412.
18 15 U.S.C. 1681b.
19 15 U.S.C. 1681b(a)(3)(A).
20 15 U.S.C. 1681b(a)(3)(F).
21 15 U.S.C. 1681b(a)(3)(C). For more information on the use of consumer credit information by the insurance industry,
see CRS Report RS21341, Credit Scores: Credit-Based Insurance Scores, by Baird Webel.
22 15 U.S.C. 1681b(c)(1). This provision allows “prescreening” by a consumer reporting agency. “Prescreening” is the
process “whereby a consumer reporting agency compiles or edits a list of consumers who meet specific criteria and
provides this list to the client or third party on behalf of the client for use in soliciting these consumers for the client’s
products or services.” This is permissible under the Fair Credit Reporting Act if the client agrees in advance that each
consumer on the list will receive an offer of credit. See CCH Consumer Credit Guide, ¶ 25,050.
23 15 U.S.C. 1681b(e). Pursuant to a 2003 amendment to the FCRA, persons who use consumer reports for
prescreening purposes must provide the consumer with a statement including the address and telephone number whey
they may request to be excluded from prescreened lists. The consumer’s election to be excluded from such lists is
effective for five years. P.L. 108-159, Section 213.
24 15 U.S.C. 1681b(c)(2).
In addition to reports issued for the commercial purposes discussed above, a consumer reporting
agency may also issue a report to a person it has reason to believe “intends to use the information
in connection with a determination of the consumer’s eligibility for a license or other benefit
granted by a governmental entity required by law to consider an applicant’s financial 25
responsibility or status.”
The Fair Credit Reporting Act also authorizes the release of consumer credit reports for certain
legal purposes. Specifically, the act authorizes the release of consumer credit reports “in response
to the order of a court having jurisdiction to issue such an order,” or in response to “a subpoena 26
issued in connection with proceedings before a Federal grand jury.” Reports may also be issued
to the heads of state or local child support enforcement agencies, if needed to establish the
consumer’s capacity to make child support payments or for determining the appropriate level of 27
If certain requirements are met, reports may also be issued for employment purposes.28 In order to
obtain a report for employment purposes, the requester must certify that the report will not be 29
used in violation of any state or federal law. The consumer must be told by the prospective
employer that a report may be obtained and must consent to the procurement of a report by the 30
employer. If the employer intends to take adverse action based in whole or in part on the report,
the consumer must be provided with a copy of the report and a description of the rights afforded 31
to consumers under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act outlines a consumer’s rights in relation to his or her credit report.
Under the FCRA, a consumer has the right to access all information in his or her credit report, 32
including the sources of the information and his or her credit score. Pursuant to a 2003
amendment to the FCRA, a consumer may request one free credit report each year from each of 33
the nationwide consumer reporting agencies. Free reports may also be obtained under certain
25 15 U.S.C. 1681b(a)(3)(D).
26 15 U.S.C. 1681b(a)(1).
27 15 U.S.C. 1681b(a)(4). In order for reports to be released for this purpose, the paternity of the consumer for the child
to which the obligation relates must have been established or acknowledged by the consumer; the consumer must be
given notice of the request; and the report must be kept confidential and used only for the indicated purpose. Id.
28 15 U.S.C. 1681b(a)(3)(B). The FCRA defines the term “employment purposes” to mean “a report used for the
purpose of evaluating a consumer for employment, promotion, reassignment or retention as an employee.” 15 U.S.C.
29 15 U.S.C. 1681b(b)(1).
30 15 U.S.C. 1681b(b)(2).
31 15 U.S.C. 1681b(b)(3).
32 15 U.S.C. 1681g(a). Credit scores must be made available to consumers pursuant to a 2003 amendment included in
P.L. 108-159. Prior to this amendment consumer reporting agencies were under no obligation to release credit scores.
For a discussion of how credit scores are used, see CRS Report RS21298, Credit Scores: Development, Use, and Policy
Issues, by Pauline Smale.
33 P.L. 108-159, Section 211(a). For more information on free credit reports, see CRS Report RL32008, A Consumer’s
Access to a Free Credit Report: A Legal and Economic Analysis, by Loretta Nott and Angie A. Welborn. The free
credit report is not required to include the consumer’s credit score. The credit score must be disclosed upon request, but
a reasonable fee may be imposed for the disclosure. P.L. 108-159, Section 212.
special circumstances.34 Absent one of these special circumstances, a consumer may be charged 35
up to $9 for additional copies of his or her credit report.
In addition to the disclosure of information contained in the consumer’s credit report, a consumer
is also entitled to receive information identifying each person that obtained a consumer report for
employment purposes during the previous two years, or for any other purpose during the previous 36
year. Additional information that must be disclosed to the consumer upon request includes “the
dates, original payees, and amounts of any checks upon which is based any adverse
characterization of the consumer, included in the file at the time of the disclosure;” and “a record
of all inquiries received by the agency during the one-year period preceding the request that
identified the consumer in connection with a credit or insurance transaction that was not initiated 37
by the consumer.”
A consumer has the right to dispute the completeness or accuracy of any item of information 38
contained in his or her file. Once the consumer notifies the consumer reporting agency of the
dispute, the agency must reinvestigate and record the current status of the disputed information, 39
or delete the item from the consumer’s file within 30 days. The consumer reporting agency must
also notify the furnisher of the disputed information of the consumer’s dispute and provide the
furnisher with all relevant information regarding the dispute that the agency has received from the 40
In conducting the reinvestigation, the consumer reporting agency must review and consider all 41
relevant information submitted by the consumer. The agency may terminate the reinvestigation
if it reasonably determines that the dispute is frivolous or irrelevant, or if the consumer fails to 42
provide sufficient information to investigate the disputed information. Should the agency
determine that the dispute is frivolous or irrelevant it must notify the consumer of the 43
determination not later than five business days after making such determination. If the
reinvestigation leads to a determination that the disputed information is in fact inaccurate,
incomplete or unverifiable, the consumer reporting agency must delete that item of information 44
from the consumer’s credit file.
Following the reinvestigation, the consumer reporting agency must provide written notice of the
results of the reinvestigation to the consumer within five days of the completion of the 45
reinvestigation. The notice must include a statement that the reinvestigation is completed; a
copy of the consumer report reflecting the information in the consumer’s file revised during the
34 See 15 U.S.C. 1681j.
36 15 U.S.C. 1681g(a)(3).
37 15 U.S.C. 1681g(a)(4), (5).
38 15 U.S.C. 1681i.
39 15 U.S.C. 1681i(a)(1)(A).
40 15 U.S.C. 1681i(a)(2)(A).
41 15 U.S.C. 1681i(a)(4).
42 15 U.S.C. 1681i(a)(3)(A).
43 15 U.S.C. 1681i(a)(3)(B).
44 15 U.S.C. 1681(a)(5).
45 15 U.S.C. 1681(a)(6)(A).
reinvestigation; a notice that, if requested by the consumer, a description of the procedure used to
determine the accuracy and completeness of the information can be provided; a notice that the
consumer has the right to add a statement to the consumer’s file disputing the accuracy or
completeness of the information contained therein; and a notice that the consumer has the right to
request that the consumer reporting agency send notices regarding deleted information to 46
Certain provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act are aimed at ensuring that the information in a
consumer’s credit file is accurate and complete. As discussed above, under the Fair Credit
Reporting Act, consumer reporting agencies are required to conduct a reasonable reinvestigation 47
of the disputed accuracy of any information in a consumer’s file. The agencies are also required
to notify requesters of consumer reports of any substantial discrepancies in the address the agency 48
has on file and the address the request was given.
In addition to their responsibilities related to the accuracy of information in a consumer’s file,
credit reporting agencies must also ensure that consumer credit reports are being released only for 49
the permissible purposes discussed above. In order to ensure that the reports are being used for
permissible purposes, the credit reporting agencies must require that the prospective users of the
information identify themselves, certify the purposes for which the information is sought, and 50
certify that the information will be used for no other purpose.
Consumer reporting agencies also have a duty to notify furnishers of information and users of 51
consumer reports of their responsibilities under the FCRA.
In addition to the general responsibilities discussed above, a consumer reporting agency has
special responsibilities with regard to investigative consumer reports and reports provided for
employment purposes. Prior to the collection of information for or the preparation of an
investigative consumer report, it must be disclosed to the consumer that such a report may be 52
made and the nature and scope of the investigation requested. A consumer reporting agency may
not prepare or furnish an investigative consumer report unless it has received certification from 53
the requesting party that the required disclosures have been made to the consumer. With regard
to reports prepared for employment purposes, a consumer reporting agency must take special
precautions to insure the accuracy of public record information that may be included in the 54
report. The consumer must be notified that such information is being reported and be given the
name and address of the person to whom the information is being reported; or the agency must
“maintain strict procedures designed to insure that whenever public information which is likely to
46 15 U.S.C. 1681(a)(6)(B).
47 P.L. 108-159, Section 317.
48 P.L. 108-159, Section 315.
51 15 U.S.C. 1681e(d). See relevant sections infra.
52 15 U.S.C. 1681d(a), (b).
53 15 U.S.C. 1681d(d).
54 15 U.S.C. 1681k.
have an adverse effect on the consumer’s ability to obtain employment is reported it is complete 55
and up to date.”
Many types of businesses and organizations contribute information to a consumer’s credit file.
The major credit reporting agencies classify contributors of information into the following
categories: “automobile dealers; banks, clothing, department, and variety stores; finance agencies;
grocery and home furnishing dealers; insurers; jewelry and camera stores; contractors; lumber,
building materials, and hardware suppliers; medical-care providers; national credit card
companies and airlines; oil companies (credit card divisions); personal services other than
medical; mail-order houses; real estate agents; hotel keepers; sporting goods and farm and garden
supply dealers; utilities; fuel distributors; government agencies (e.g. the Federal Housing
Administration and the Veterans Administration); wholesalers; advertisers; and collection 56
Generally, any person who has information related to a consumer’s financial activities can report
information about that person’s transactions and experiences with the consumer to a consumer
reporting agency. However, a person or business with information about a consumer is not
required to report that information to a consumer reporting agency. If negative information is 57
being reported, the furnisher must notify the consumer in writing.
Generally, persons who furnish information to consumer reporting agencies have a duty to
provide accurate information. Under the FCRA, a furnisher may not provide any information
relating to a consumer to a consumer reporting agency if the person knows or has reasonable 58
cause to believe that the information is inaccurate. Furnishers of information are also prohibited
from furnishing information if they have been notified by the consumer that the information they 59
are reporting is inaccurate. Pursuant to a 2003 amendment to the FCRA, furnishers are also
prohibited from furnishing information identified by the consumer as resulting from identity theft,
unless the furnisher subsequently knows or is informed by the consumer that the information is 60
correct. Another 2003 amendment to the FCRA requires furnishers of information to have in
place reasonable procedures to respond to any notification from a consumer reporting agency
regarding the blocking of information resulting from identity theft to prevent such information 61
from being refurnished.
In addition to the reinvestigation requirements imposed on consumer reporting agencies,
furnishers of information are also required to investigate disputed information. After a furnisher
of information receives notice from a consumer reporting agency regarding the disputed
completeness or accuracy of information contained in a consumer report, the person furnishing
the information must initiate an investigation and report the results of the investigation to the
55 15 U.S.C. 1681k(a)(1), (2).
56 Miller, supra footnote 4, p. 298.
57 P.L. 108-159, Section 217.
58 15 U.S.C. 1681s-2(a)(1), as amended by P.L. 108-159, Section 312.
61 P.L. 108-159, Section 154.
consumer reporting agency.62 If the investigation conducted by the furnisher of information finds
that the information is incomplete or inaccurate, the furnisher must report those results to all other 63
consumer reporting agencies to which the incomplete or inaccurate information was furnished.
Furnishers of information must also notify consumer reporting agencies when an account is
closed by the consumer, and must provide notice of delinquent accounts that are being placed for 64
collection, charged to profit or loss, or subjected to any other similar action.
The FCRA allows consumers to dispute the accuracy of information directly with the furnisher.
Furnishers must investigate the disputed information and report the results to the consumer within 65
a specified period of time. If the information is found to be inaccurate, the furnisher must notify
each consumer reporting agency to which the information was originally furnished and provide 66
the correct information.
As noted above, consumer credit reports can only be used for the purposes specified in the Fair
Credit Reporting Act. Despite these limitations, users of consumer credit reports vary widely. The
most common users of consumer reports are credit grantors, such as credit card companies. Other 67
common users include insurers, employers, collection agencies, and government agencies. The
Fair Credit Reporting Act imposes specific requirements on persons who use the information
contained in consumer reports.
Users of consumer reports must following the requirements set forth in the Fair Credit Reporting
Act if they take any adverse action with respect to any consumer that is based in whole or in part 68
on any information contained in the consumer’s report. If such action is taken, the user must 69
provide the consumer with oral, written or electronic notice of the adverse action. The notice
must include the name, address, and telephone number of the consumer reporting agency that
furnished the report to the user; and a statement that the consumer reporting agency did not make
the decision to take the adverse action and is unable to provide the consumer with specific 70
reasons why the adverse action was taken. The consumer must also be notified of his or her
right to obtain a free copy of the consumer report from the consumer reporting agency that
furnished the report and of the consumer’s right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of that 71
62 15 U.S.C. 1681s-2(b)(1).
64 15 U.S.C. 1681s-2(a)(4), (5).
65 P.L. 108-159, Section 312.
67 For descriptions of how each of these uses the information contained in consumer reports, see Miller, supra footnote
4, p. 300 - 301.
68 In general, an adverse action is any negative action, such as a denial or cancellation, taken with respect to the
consumer’s continued coverage or application for credit, insurance or employment. The Fair Credit Reporting Act
provides a detailed definition of adverse action at 15 U.S.C. 1681a(k).
69 15 U.S.C. 1681m(a)(1).
70 15 U.S.C. 1681m(a)(2). Special requirements relate to adverse actions based on information received from third
parties other than consumer reporting agencies. These requirements generally impose a duty on the user to disclose the
reasons for the adverse action and the nature of the information received from the third party. See 15 U.S.C. 1681m(b).
71 15 U.S.C. 1681m(a)(3).
A notice must also be provided by users who grant, extend, or otherwise provide credit on
material terms that are materially less favorable then the most favorable terms available to a 72
substantial proportion of consumers from or through that user. The notice provided must include
a statement informing the consumer that the terms offered to the consumer were set based on
information from a consumer report; identification of the consumer reporting agency that
furnished the report; a statement informing the consumer that he or she may obtain a free copy of
the consumer report from that agency; and the contact information specified by the agency for 73
obtaining such reports.
The FCRA also imposes duties on users of consumer reports when reports are used in connection
with a credit or insurance transaction not initiated by the consumer. Written solicitations made to
consumers regarding credit or insurance transactions not initiated by the consumer must include a
“clear and conspicuous statement” that information from the consumer’s credit report was used in
connection with the transaction; the consumer received the offer for credit or insurance because
he or she satisfied specified criteria; and the credit or insurance may not be extended if, after the
consumer responds to the offer, the consumer does not meet additional criteria used to determine 74
creditworthiness or insurability. The statement must also include information about a
consumer’s right to prohibit information contained in the consumer’s file from being used in
connection with any transaction not initiated by the consumer and information on how the 75
consumer may exercise this right.
The FCRA was amended in 2003 to include a number of provisions aimed at preventing identity
theft and assisting victims. These provisions mirror laws passed by state legislatures and create a
national standard for addressing consumer concerns with regard to identity theft and other types 76
of fraud. They impose responsibilities on consumer reporting agencies, furnishers of
information, and users of consumer credit reports, as well as providing consumers with rights
with respect to protecting the information in their files and insuring that the information contained
therein is accurate.
Credit card issuers, who operate as users of consumer credit reports, are required to follow certain
procedures when the issuer receives a request for an additional or replacement card within a short 77
period of time following notification of a change of address for the same account. In a further
effort to prevent identity theft, the truncation of credit card account numbers is required on 78
electronically printed receipts, and, upon request, the truncation of social security numbers on 79
credit reports provided to a consumer.
72 P.L. 108-159, Section 311.
74 15 U.S.C. 1681m(d)(1).
75 Id. See also 15 U.S.C. 1681b(e).
76 Generally, many of these federal provisions preempt similar state laws. For more information on the preemptive
effects of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, see CRS Report RS21449, Fair Credit Reporting Act: Preemption of State
Law, by Margaret Mikyung Lee.
77 15 U.S.C. 1681m.
78 15 U.S.C. 1681c(g).
79 15 U.S.C. 1681g(a)(1)(A).
Consumers who have been victims of identity theft, or expect that they may become victims, are 80
able to have fraud alerts placed in their files. A consumer may request a fraud alert from one
consumer reporting agency and that agency is required to notify the other nationwide consumer
reporting agencies of the existence of the alert. In general, fraud alerts are to be maintained in the
file for 90 days, but a consumer may request an extended alert which is maintained for up to
seven years. The fraud alert becomes a part of the consumer’s credit file and is thus passed along
to all users of the report. The alert must also be included with any credit score generated using the 81
consumer’s file, and must be referred to other consumer reporting agencies.
In addition to the fraud alert, victims of identity theft may also have information resulting from 82
the crime blocked from their credit reports. After the receipt of appropriate proof of the identity
of the consumer, a copy of an identity theft report, the identification of the alleged fraudulent
information, and statement by the consumer that the information is not information relating to any
transaction conducted by the consumer, a consumer reporting agency must block all such
information from being reported and must notify the furnisher of the information in question that
it may be the result of identity theft. Requests for the blocking of information must also be 83
referred to other consumer reporting agencies.
Victims of identity theft are also allowed to request information about the alleged crime. A
business entity is required, upon request and subject to verification of the victim’s identity, to
provide copies of application and business transaction records evidencing any transaction alleged
to be a result of identity theft to the victim or to any law enforcement agency investigating the 84
theft and authorized by the victim to take receipt of the records in question.
Margaret Mikyung Lee
80 15 U.S.C. 1681c-1.
81 15 U.S.C. 1681s(f)(1).
82 15 U.S.C. 1681c-2.
83 15 U.S.C. 1681s(f)(1).
84 15 U.S.C. 1681g(e).