Happy 50th Birthday FCRA from the Adkins Firm!

What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was enacted in 1970 to protect consumers’ rights to privacy and ensure the accuracy of their consumer reports. The FCRA applies to consumer reporting agencies, companies who use consumer reports and companies who furnish information to the consumer reporting agencies. 

Unfortunately, the FCRA has not caused reform in the consumer credit industry. Background checks and credit reports still contain far too many errors.  Consumers often complain of difficulty experienced while trying to correct errors on credit or background reports. 

What rights do consumers have under the FCRA?

Do you know what right you have under the FCRA? Consumers have the right to access their free credit report from consumer reporting agencies. Consumers also have the right to dispute inaccurate information reporting by the consumer reporting agencies, such as Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.

“The FCRA also provides consumers with the right to sue credit reporting agencies, creditors and debt collectors who do not comply with the FCRA,” says attorney Micah Adkins. He added, “Consumers can recover money damages and attorney’s fees for successful claims made under the FCRA.”

Credit report errors prevent consumer from being able to get credit. Credit report errors can also increase the cost of credit for consumers. Background report errors may prevent consumers from getting a job. Background errors in tenant screening reports may also prevent consumers from being approved for housing.

FTC Enforcement Actions

According to the Federal Trade Commission, “in the past decade, the FTC’s policy work and more than 30 actions against CRAs, users of consumer reports, and furnishers feature a number of firsts, including:

  • Spokeo – In 2012, the FTC alleged that data broker Spokeo was a CRA subject to the FCRA. This was the first Commission case to address the sale of Internet and social media data in the employment screening context. The settlement included a civil penalty of $800,000 for violations related to Spokeo’s sale of consumer reports to background screening, human resources, and recruiting professionals.
  • HireRight Solutions – The FTC’s 2012 action against HireRight Solutions was the agency’s first case against an employment background screening company. The company paid a $2.6 million civil penalty for allegedly violating the FCRA accuracy and consumer dispute requirements and other provisions.
  • Credit Reporting Accuracy Study – In fulfillment of the FACT Act, the FTC published a ground-breaking Report to Congress in 2013 about the accuracy of information in credit reports. It was the first major study that looked at all of the primary groups that participate in the credit reporting and scoring process, including consumers, furnishers (creditors, lenders, debt collection agencies, etc.), the Fair Isaac Corporation (developer of FICO scores), and national credit bureaus. The study found that one in five consumers had an error on at least one of their three credit reports.
  • Certegy Check Services and TeleCheck Services – Announced in 2013 and 2014, the FTC’s actions against Certegy Check Services and TeleCheck Services were the agency’s first FCRA cases against check authorization CRAs and first cases alleging violations of the Furnisher Rule. The settlement with Certegy included a $3.5 million civil penalty, as did the settlement with TeleCheck.
  • RealPage – This 2018 action against a tenant screening company was the FTC’s first FCRA case examining automated background screening practices. The complaint alleged that RealPage failed to take reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of consumer reports, resulting in false information that prospective renters had criminal records. The upshot: a $3 million civil penalty.
  • Kohl’s – In 2020, the FTC announced its first action against a business for failing to provide transaction records to identity theft victims as required by the FCRA. The settlement with retailer Kohl’s included a $220,000 civil penalty.

Do you have credit report errors?

Do you have errors on your credit report or background report? Have you disputed the false information to the credit bureaus? Did the credit bureaus verify the inaccurate information is correct or belongs to you? If you answered yes, then you may be entitled to money damages under the FCRA. 

The Adkins Firm represents consumers who have errors on credit, employment background or tenant screening reports.  We represent clients in federal court all over the U.S., and we may be able to help you, too.  Contact us to schedule a free case review. Remember, it’s your credit report!