The Fair Credit Reporting Act Isn't Just About Credit
June 27, 2019
When people think of a credit report, they typically think of a report issued by one of the Big 3 (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) showing whether they pay their bills on time. While the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") certainly deals with those reports, it's much broader than that.
In the FCRA's section of definitions, the term "credit report" doesn't even appear. Instead, the act refers to "consumer reports", which has a far broader scope. A consumer report is defined as
"any written, oral, or other communication of any information by a consumer reporting agency bearing on a consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living which is used or expected to be used or collected in whole or in part for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing the consumer’s eligibility for—
(A) credit or insurance to be used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes;
(B) employment purposes; or
(C) any other purpose authorized under section 1681b of this title." 15 U.S.C. §1681a(d)(1).
If this seems dense, that's because it is. Consumer reports include a lot of items beyond just those involving credit. They include tenant screening reports, bad check reports, and employee background checks. The upshot is that the requirements of the FCRA, including access to the report, disclosure of information, and accuracy requirements, apply in the same way.