Equifax Data Breach

New York Consumer Law Blog

Monday, September 5, 2016

What Do Consumer Reports Cover? More than Just "Credit Reports"

What Do Credit Reports Cover?

A great deal of consumer credit and evaluative information is contained in "consumer reports."  These reports -- including but not limited to credit reports -- are covered by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) as well as by the New York Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Both FCRA statutes give consumers a number of protections regarding the use and accuracy of their data.  Many consumers think that such protections extend only to "typical" credit reports, but in fact there are a broad range of topics that qualify for protection under the FCRA. The statute in 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(d) defines a "consumer report" as any report bearing on a consumer's

  • Creditworthiness
  • Credit standing
  • Credit capacity
  • Character
  • General reputation
  • Personal characteristics
  • Mode of living

What is the practical effect of these definitions?  Reports that address likely income, educational background, criminal records, other public record information, telephone service history, payday loans, and asset ownership all fall under the purview of the FCRA.  Reports about a renter's history including payment history, evictions, and his or her treatment of premises each would qualify as a consumer report.  Driving records can contain personal information that bears on a consumer's individual characteristics and may be considered a consumer report.   

The FCRA also regulates consumer reporting agencies including a failure to provide a consumer report upon request.  In addition, the FCRA prohibits requesting someone's credit report for an impermissible purpose.  Otherwise known as "impermissible pulls," improperly accessing a consumer's credit report exposes the wrongdoer to significant liability under the FCRA.

It is important to know that consumer credit reports address more than whether you paid off your mortgage or made your car payments on time. Your rights as a consumer may be addressed by the FCRA under a much broader range than many consumers are aware.  

For more information, visit http://nyconsumerlaw.com/

 


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