When you hear the term credit reporting agency, you typically think of the big 3 reporting agencies that report your payment history and balances; Trans Union, Equifax and Experian. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provides consumers with a number of rights when it comes to dealing with a credit reporting agency including a free copy of your credit report once every year, as well as a free credit report whenever you are denied a credit opportunity. The FCRA says that no one can access your credit report without a legal purpose, and that you can have the right to have inaccurate information on your credit reports investigated and corrected.
What most people don’t know is that credit reporting is not just limited to Trans Union, Equifax and Experian, and your credit histories. The FCRA covers all “Consumer Reports” which means any communication by a consumer reporting agency ie: a consumer’s credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living which is used or expected to be used for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing the consumer’s eligibility for credit, insurance or employment purposes.
“Consumer Reports” are not just the big 3 reporting companies; they are also a host of other companies that maintain databases which are used for background checks for employment, insurance, check cashing and criminal behaviors. When you apply for a job and a background check is performed, chances are a company such as Hireright/USIS, Innovis, Intelius or Corelogic may be contacted for a report about you. If you apply for insurance, a company such as National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) may be contacted, or if you apply for a bank account or credit union, companies such as ChexSystems or Certegy Check Cashing may be contacted.
Any company that provides “Consumer Reports” of any kind must comply with the FCRA which means that they must: be prepared to provide a free report to a consumer every 12 month period; have a reasonable dispute procedure in place when a consumer identifies inaccurate information in their reports; and must respond to the consumer within 30 days.
We have seen many instances of errors on “Consumer Reports” here at SmithMarco and there have been numerous news reports of individuals with the same name as career criminals who have been prevented employment due to a background check. As a consumer, you have the protection of the FCRA to clear up any error on your consumer report and also the right to seek compensation when these errors cause you a loss of income.