The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a United States federal law (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.) that regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer information, including consumer credit information. 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 and private litigants.

In addition to the three big CRAs, the FCRA also classifies dozens of other information technology companies as "nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies" that produce individual consumer reports used to make credit determinations. Under Section 603(w) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the term “nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency” means a consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis relating to

1.medical records or payments;
2.residential or tenant history;
3.check writing history;
4.employment history; or
5.insurance claims.

Because these nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies sell consumer credit report files, they are required to provide annual disclosures of their report files to any consumers who request disclosure. A partial list of companies classified as nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies under FCRA includes: ChoicePoint, Acxiom, Integrated Screening Partners, Innovis, the Insurance Services Office (ISO), Tenant Data Services, LexisNexis, Retail Equation, Central Credit, Teletrack, the Medical Information Bureau (MIB aka, MIB Group, Inc.), UnitedHealth Group (Ingenix Division), and Milliman.

Although the major CRAs Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are required by law to provide a central source website for consumers to request their reports, the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies are not required to provide a centralized online source for disclosure. The FCRA Section 612(c) merely requires nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies to establish a streamlined process for consumers to request consumer reports, which shall include, at a minimum, the establishment by each such agency of a toll-free telephone number for such consumer disclosure requests

Likelihood of errors on a credit report

A large portion of consumer credit reports contain errors. A study released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group in June 2004 found that 79% of the consumer credit reports surveyed contained some kind of error or mistake.[10] However, the General Accountability Office released a study disputing US PIRG numbers. The Federal Reserve Board issued a similar study noting that "the proportion of individuals affected by any single type of data problem appears to be small." In 2007, the Consumer Data Industry Association which represents the credit bureaus testified that less than two percent of 52 million credit reports had data deleted because it was in error. The accuracy of credit report data was also mentioned in written testimony by Allstate Insurance before the Michigan insurance department in 2002. By law, consumers can invoke their rights under the FCRA to review and correct their credit reports.


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