FCRA Guidlines

Note: The source of the following information is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, D.C.

This is the second of what will be a four-part series on the basics you need to know about the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

First, as a candidate for employment “you have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information.” If something in your file is incomplete or inaccurate, you can report it to the consumer reporting agency and that agency must investigate your dispute unless your dispute is frivolous.

The next point is that “consumer reporting agencies must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information, usually within 30 days.” On the surface this sounds like a perfectly reasonable requirement, but I think it’s unclear how the determination is made that information is inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable. Who raises the issue, the consumer or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? Furthermore, how does the consumer, lets say, demonstrate or prove the information is inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable? I wouldn’t think that a consumer could just contact the consumer reporting agency and claim that something like dates of employment are incorrect. If the consumer reporting agency contacted a previous employer and got the dates of employment from their HR department, I’d think the consumer would have a tough time proving their records are incorrect!

Next, consumer reporting agencies “may not report outdated negative information.” If a misdemeanor record is more than seven years old can’t be reported. Furthermore, bankruptcy records that are more than ten years old may not be reported. Felonies, however, are usually always reportable, regardless of the age of the record. This limitation is pretty reasonable on its face. I have a question, however, about the court check that turns up a conviction for committing a violent or deadly act in the workplace longer ago than seven years. If I were the prospective employer, I think I’d want to know about that! But, depending on whether the offense was disposed as a misdemeanor or a felony, the FCRA may not allow that information to be reported by a credit reporting agency.