October 3rd, 2018 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

Recent FCRA Updates You Need to Know

Recent FCRA Updates You Need to Know

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has been in the news lately due to the changes from the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, which amended sections of the Dodd-Frank Act. One of the amendments, The Security Freeze Notice, which went into effect on September 21, 2018, has required Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA), to update documentation. In our Q3 FCRA Quarterly Update webinar, compliance expert, Joe Rotondo, discussed recent and anticipated changes in state and local legislation as it relates to the FCRA including the Security Freeze Notice.

Highly Regulated Industry

The background screening industry is highly regulated by federal, state and local laws. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal consumer protection law dating back to the 1970’s that governs consumer background checks. The FCRA mandates:

  • The responsibilities of third parties who collect information about consumers called CRAs
  • The requirements for users of this information called End Users
  • The requirements for the entities that furnish information to the CRA’s, who are called Furnishers.

The services and programs that a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA), such as Sterling provides, fall under the regulation of the FCRA. A CRA is any entity that regularly engages in the practice of assembling or evaluating information about individuals for a fee. The Consumer Protection Bureau (CFPB), created under the Dodd-Frank Act, enforces the rules dictated under the FCRA.

There are four procedures required by FCRA to be compliant:

  • End User Certification
  • Disclosure & Authorization
  • Pre-Adverse Action
  • Adverse Action

CRA’s are required to obtain a certification of compliance by the user that the user will abide by the FCRA and other applicable laws. Users must certify that it has a permissible purpose, that every individual who is screened has given consent in the form of a written authorization and disclosure prior to running the background check, and that the user will follow the adverse action process.

Disclosure and Authorization

The Disclosure and Authorization process are two different forms that are required to obtain an employment background check. Employers must disclose in a separate document that a consumer report may be obtained. Organizations must obtain written authorization from the individual before ordering the background check report. A Federal Summary of Consumer Rights should be distributed with the Disclosure and Authorization as well as any state-specific Summary of Rights. A stand-alone Disclosure and Authorization form should be utilized, meaning that these are two separate forms and should not be combined or added to other onboarding forms.

Credit Freeze Notice

As mentioned earlier, The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act amended the FCRA to require that any time a consumer is required to receive the Summary of Rights, a new notice must be provided to the consumer regarding their right to obtain a security credit freeze. The law requires all consumer reporting agencies to provide the security freeze notice when a Summary of Rights is required by the FCRA. The consumer is entitled to receive copies of federal notices when a consumer report is produced by a consumer reporting agency for employment purposes and the inclusion of the security freeze notice is required by all CRAs regardless if the CRA provides a credit report to an employer or not. It is important to remember that the security freeze is only applicable to a credit report.

The amended law increases consumer credit protection under the FCRA in two ways. First, the update allows a consumer one year to submit a fraud alert, notifying credit bureaus that the consumer has been or is about to become a victim of fraud. Secondly, the law implements a national security freeze that allows a consumer free of charge to prohibit credit bureaus from disclosing the contents of a consumer report.

Sterling has added the new language for the security freeze but did not update the Federal Summary of Rights yet, as the one that was issued was from an interim rule and it may change. We will not make the update until the final rule comes out. However, based on the guidance from the CFPB, we are compliant by using the old summary of rights and the security freeze.

Stay Up-to-Date with Background Screening Compliance Laws

Sterling strives to keep its clients up to date on laws pertaining to the background screening industry. To find out more about FCRA Compliance and information for the background screening industry, listen to an OnDemand version of the Q3 2018 FCRA Compliance webinar and sign up for the quarterly updates.

PLEASE NOTE: Documents/presentations should NOT be construed as legal advice, guidance or counsel. Employers should consult their own attorney about their compliance responsibilities under the FCRA and applicable state and municipal law. Sterling Infosystems expressly disclaims any warranties or responsibility for damages associated with or arising out of this document/presentation or other information provided.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.