The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is an American federal law (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.) that regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer credit information. (Full Statute (PDF).)] Along with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), it forms the base of consumer credit rights in the United States. It was originally passed in 1970, and is enforced by the US Federal Trade Commission.
Which companies are regulated by the FCRA?
While putative database companies like Lexis, Westlaw, ChoicePoint, and eFunds (owner of ChexSystems) do not create credit reports, they may gather the same types of information and as a result may subject some of their actions to FCRA.
An excerpt of the 1999 FTC advisory opinion states:
An entity that meets the definitional requirement for a "consumer reporting agency" (CRA) in Section 603(f) of the FCRA is covered by the law even if the only information it collects, maintains, and disseminates is obtained from "public record" sources. Section 603(f) 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 ... for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties ...". In turn, Section 603(d) defines a "consumer report" as the communication of "any information" by a CRA that bears on a consumer's "credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living" that is "used or expected to be used or collected in whole or in part" for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing eligibility for credit or insurance to be used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, employment purposes, or any other purpose authorized under Section 604. If the commercial service you describe regularly provides information for the purposes set forth in the definition of consumer report in Section 603(d), the agency is a consumer reporting agency and the information it collects from public record sources and maintains in its computerized files is subject to the FCRA.