The Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 ("FCRA"), is a federal statute that first became effective in 1971. It regulates the activities of consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), the users of reports (Users), and those who furnish information to CRAs (furnishers). The Act also provides remedies to consumers affected by such reports.
The FCRA was enacted to promote the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information contained in the files of CRAs. It was intended to protect consumers from the negligent and/or willful inclusion of inaccurate information in their consumer reports. Remedies for FCRA violations include actual damages for negligent violations and punitive damages for willful violations.
Below is a summary of common Furnishers, CRAs and Users. Furnishers send consumer information to the CRAs. Users access the reports from the CRAs to make credit, employment and housing decisions.
Dispute Process for Inaccurate Information
To dispute inaccurate information in a report, the consumer must notify the CRA directly. § 1681i(a)(1)(A). Upon receiving notice of the consumer's dispute, the CRA must conduct a reasonable reinvestigation, free of charge, within 30 days. The CRA also has 5-business days to provide notification of the dispute to the furnisher. § 1681i(a)(2).
Furnisher's Duty to Investigate
After receiving notice pursuant to § 1681i(a)(2) of a dispute with regard to the completeness or accuracy of any information provided by a furnisher to a CRA, the furnisher shall:
(A) conduct an investigation with respect to the disputed information;
(B) review all relevant information provided by the CRA;
(C) report the results of the investigation to the CRA;
(D) if the investigation finds that the information is incomplete or inaccurate, report those results to all other CRAs; and
(E) if an item of information disputed by a consumer is found to be inaccurate or incomplete or cannot be verified after any reinvestigation, for purposes of reporting to a CRA only, promptly—
(i) modify that item of information;
(ii) delete that item of information; or
(iii) permanently block the reporting of that item of information.
CRA's Duty to Reinvestigate
If, after the CRAs reinvestigation, an item is found to be inaccurate or incomplete or cannot be verified, the CRA shall—
(i) promptly delete that item of information from the file of the consumer, or modify that item of information, as appropriate, based on the results of the reinvestigation; and
(ii) promptly notify the furnisher of that information that the information has been modified or deleted from the file of the consumer. § 1681i(a)(5).