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December 15, 2009

Explanation of 15 U.S.C. 1681g

This is part one of my explanation of 15 U.S.C. 1681g of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

"Section 609.  Disclosures to consumers [15 U.S.C. 1681g]

(a)  Information on file; sources; report recipients.  Every consumer reporting agency shall, upon request, and subject to 610(a)(1) [Section 1681h], clearly and accurately disclose to the consumer:

(1)  All information in the consumer's file at the time of the request except that --

(A)  if the consumer to whom the file relates requests that the first 5 digits of the social security number (or similar identification number) of the consumer not be included in the disclosure and the consumer reporting agency has received appropriate proof of the identity of the requester, the consumer reporting agency shall so truncate such number in such disclosures; and

(B)  nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to require a consumer reporting agency to disclose to a consumer any information concerning credit scores or any other risk scores or predictors relating to the consumer."

[This is an important section for consumers as it requires the credit bureaus to disclose to you, the consumer, your entire credit file upon request.  This can become important in litigation, particularly in mixed file cases, because the credit bureau typically provides consumers a report that contains credit information that exactly matches the identifiers of the consumer, while the same credit bureau will provide credit reports to third parties utilizing a looser matching logic which often results in more credit information being provided to third parties than to the consumer.  Since the additional information is considered part of the consumer's credit file, the credit bureau violates this section when it fails to disclose the additional information to the consumer.

The other part of this section allows the credit bureau not to disclose information regarding its credit score model as well as the first 5 digits of the consumer's Social Security number if the consumer has opted to truncate the SSN.]

"(2)  The sources of the information; except that the sources of the information acquired solely for use in preparing an investigative consumer report and actually use for no other purpose need not be disclosed: Provided, That in the event an action is brought under this title, such sources shall be available to the plaintiff under appropriate discovery procedures in the court in which the action is brought."

[This section requires the credit bureaus to identify the sources of the credit information they report regarding consumers.  This is important so that consumers know the identity of the companies that are reporting information about them and, if needed, can use that information to dispute directly to the funisher of the credit information.]

"(3)(A)  Identification of each person (including each end-user identified under section 607(e)(1) [Section 1681e]) that procured a consumer report

(i)  for employment purposes, during the 2-year period preceding the date on which the request is made; or

(ii)  for any purpose, during the 1-year period preceding the date on which the request is made."

[This is the section that results in the inquiry section of the credit report.  Inquiries are records of who accesses a consumer's credit report and when.  I think all of the credit bureaus report inquiries for 2 years, but this section only requires them to report inquiries for 1 year, except for inquiries for employment purposes.]

"(B)  An identification of a person under subparagraph (A) shall include

(i)  the name of the person or, if applicable, the trade name (written in full) under which such person conducts business; and

(ii)  upon request of the consumer, the address and telephone number of the person."

[This section just defines what the credit bureaus must include to identify the company accessing the credit report.  This section also requires the credit bureaus to provide the address and telephone number of the companies making the inquiries upon request.]

"(C)  Subparagraph (A) does not apply if --

(i)  the end user is an agency or department of the United States Government that procures the report form the person for purposes of determining the eligibility of the consumer to whom the report relates to receive access or continued access to classified information (as defined in section 604(b)(4)(E)(i)); and

(ii)  the head of the agency or department makes a written finding as prescribed under section 604(b)(4)(A)."

[This section exempts from required disclosure the identity of the user accessing the credit report when the user is an agency or department of the U.S. government but only if the report is obtained to determine the consumer's eligibility for access or continued access to classified information.]

That's part one of my explanation of 1681g.  I will continue with part two in the near future.

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