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Letter No. 98-02

Date: March 6, 1998

On September 30, 1997, amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 U.S.C. � 1681, et seq.) became effective as a result of the Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act of 1996. The amendments require changes on the part of the users of consumer reports and providers of information to consumer reporting agencies. These changes impact on OPM-IS as the provider of investigative services to other Federal agencies, and on our customer agencies as the final users of credit information gathered as a result of OPM's investigations.

Most notably, Section 1681b of title 15 addresses permissible purposes for which consumer reports may be furnished and conditions for furnishing and using consumer reports for employment purposes. If an a enc. intends to use a consumer report for employment purposes, Subsection 1681b (b) (2) of title 15 requires that the applicant/employee be notified in a document consisting solely of the notice that a consumer report may be used, and the applicant/employee must authorize this use in writing before the consumer report is obtained. Subsection 1681b (b)(3) of title 15 requires that, before taking adverse action relative to an employment decision based on a consumer report, the agency must provide the consumer with a copy of the report, and a copy of the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Consumer Rights Notice.

The notice, disclosure, certification and adverse action requirements of the FCRA do not directly apply to OPM-IS in its role as the provider of investigative services to other requesting Federal agencies. However, we do obtain credit reports on behalf of other Federal agencies, and will require those Federal agencies to certify that they are the procurer of the credit report and that they are compliant with the FCRA's relevant provisions. We are, therefore, sending under separate cover a request to each agency for a one-time blanket certification to this effect, to be completed and returned to OPM-IS no later than May 1, 1998.

We will ask that the certification acknowledge that the requesting Federal agency is the procurer of the credit report for purposes of compliance with the FCRA. We will also ask that the requesting Federal agency certify that it is compliant with all relevant provisions of the FCRA. This certification should include certification that the agency will (a) clearly and conspicuously disclose to the subject of investigation, in a written document consisting solely of the disclosure, that the agency may obtain a credit report for employment purposes; and (b) obtain the subject's written authorization to obtain the credit report. It will also state that the agency will not take adverse action against the subject of investigation, based in whole or in part upon the credit report, without first providing the subject a copy of the report and a written description of the subject's rights as described by the FTC under Section 1681g(c)(3) of title 15. Finally, the certification must state that the requesting Federal agency will not use any information from the consumer report in violation of any applicable equal employment opportunity law or regulation.

A sample release for obtaining written authorization from each affected applicant/employee, as well as a copy of the FTC's Consumer Rights Notice are attached for your information and may be reproduced as necessary. You can obtain additional information regarding the FCRA at the Federal Trade Commission's Internet web site (http://www.ftc.gov).

 

Richard A. Ferris
Associate Director for Investigations

Attachments below


Inquiries: OPM-IS, Oversight and Technical Assistance Division, 202-606-1042
OPM-FIPC, Contract Management Branch, 724-794-5612

Code: 736, Investigations

Distribution: SOI/SON's

Notice Expires: When superseded

SAMPLE RELEASE

Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970, as amended

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE THAT ONE OR MORE CONSUMER CREDIT REPORTS MAY BE OBTAINED FOR EMPLOYMENT PURPOSES PURSUANT TO THE FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT, AS AMENDED, 15 U. S. C., �1681, ET SEQ. SHOULD A DECISION TO TAKE ANY ADVERSE ACTION AGAINST YOU BE MADE, BASED EITHER IN WHOLE OR IN PART ON THE CONSUMER CREDIT REPORT, THE CONSUMER REPORTING AGENCY THAT PROVIDED THE REPORT PLAYED NO ROLE IN THE AGENCY'S DECISION TO TAKE SUCH ADVERSE ACTION.

Information provided by you on this form will be furnished to the consumer reporting agency in order to obtain information in connection with an investigation to determine your (1) fitness for Federal employment, (2) clearance to perform contractual service for the Federal Government, and/or (3) security clearance or access. The information obtained may be redisclosed to other Federal agencies for the above purposes and in fulfillment of official responsibilities to the extent that such disclosure is permitted by law.

I hereby authorize the _____________________________ to obtain such report(s) from any (Name of Requesting Agency) consumer/credit reporting agency for employment purposes.

_______________________(Print Name)

_______________________ (Signature)

____________________ (SSN)

____________________(Date)

Your Social Security Number is needed to keep records accurate, because other people may have the same name. Executive Order 9397 also asks Federal agencies to use this number to help identify individuals in agency records.

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A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is designed to promote accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of every "consumer reporting agency" (CRA). Most CRAs are credit bureaus that gather and sell information about you -- such as if you pay your bills on time or have filed bankruptcy -- to creditors, employers, landlords, and other businesses. You can find the complete text of the FCRA, 15 U.S. C. 1681-168 1 u, at the Federal Trade Commission's web site http:www.FTC.GOV. The FCRA gives you specific rights, as outlined below. You may have additional rights under state law. You may contact a state or local consumer protection agency or a state attorney general to learn those rights.

  • You must be told if information in your file has been used against you. Anyone who uses information from a CRA to take action against you -- such as denying an application for credit, insurance, or employment -- must tell you, and give you the name, address, and phone number of the CRA that provided the consumer report.
  • You can find out what is in your file. At your request, a CRA must give you the information in your file, and a list of everyone who has requested it recently. There is no charge for the report if a person has taken action against you because of information supplied by the CRA, if you request the report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. You also are entitled to one free report every twelve months upon request if you certify that (1) you are unemployed and plan to seek employment within 60 days, (2) you are on welfare, or (3) your report is inaccurate due to fraud. Otherwise, a CRA may charge you up to eight dollars.
  • You can dispute inaccurate information with the CRA. If you tell a CRA that your file contains inaccurate information, the CRA must investigate the items (usually within 30 days) by presenting to its information source all relevant evidence you submit, unless your dispute is frivolous. The source must review your evidence and report its findings to the CRA. (The source also must advise national CRAs -- to which it has provided the data -- of any error.) The CRA must give you a written report of the investigation, and a copy of your report if the investigation results in any change. If the CRA's investigation does not resolve the dispute, you may add a brief statement to your file. The CRA must normally include a summary of your statement in future reports. If an item is deleted or a dispute statement is filed, you may ask that anyone who has recently received your report be notified of the change.
  • Inaccurate information must be corrected or deleted. A CRA must remove or correct inaccurate or unverified information from its files, usually within 30 days after you dispute it. However, the CRA is not required to remove accurate data from your file unless it is outdated (as described below) or cannot be verified. If your dispute results in any change to your report, the CRA cannot reinsert into your file a disputed item unless the information source verifies its accuracy and completeness. In addition, the CRA must give you a written notice telling you it has reinserted the item. The notice must include the name, address and phone number of the information source.
  • You can dispute inaccurate items with the source of the information. If you tell anyone - - such as a creditor who reports to a CRA -- that you dispute an item, they may not then report the information to a CRAwithout including a notice of your dispute. In addition, once you've notified the source of the error in writing, it may not continue to report the information if it is, in fact, an error.
  • Outdated information may not be reported. In most cases, a CRA may not report negative information that is more than seven years old; ten years for bankruptcies.
  • Access to your file is limited. A CRA may provide information about you only to people with a need recognized by the FCRA -- usually to consider an application with a creditor, insurer, employer, landlord, or other business.
  • Your consent is required for reports that are provided to employers, or reports that contain medical information. A CRA may not give out information about you to your employer, or prospective employer, without your written consent. A CRA may not report medical information about you to creditors, insurers, or employers, without your permission.
  • You may choose to exclude your name from CRA lists for unsolicited credit and insurance offers. Creditors and insurers may use file information as the basis for sending you unsolicited offers of credit or insurance. Such offers must include a toll-free phone number for you to call if you want your name and address removed from future lists. If you call, you must be kept off the lists for two years. If you request, complete, and return the CRA form provided for this purpose, you must be taken off the lists indefinitely.
  • You may seek damages from violators. If a CRA, a user or (in some cases) a provider of CRA data, violates the FCRA, you may sue them in state or federal court.

The FCRA gives several different federal agencies authority to enforce the FCRA:

FOR QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS REGARDING:PLEASE CONTACT:

CRA's creditors and others not listed below

Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center-FCRA
Washington , DC   20580   202-326-3761

National banks, Federal branches/agencies of  foreign banks (word "National" or initials "N.A"  appear in or after banks name)

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Compliance Management   Mail    Stop 6-6
Washington ,    DC   20219 800-613-6743

Federal Reserve System member banks (except national banks, and Federal branches/agencies of foreign banks)

Federal Reserve Board
Division of Consumer  & Community  Affairs Washington,   DC   20551
202-452-3693

Savings associations and federally chartered savings banks (word "Federal or initials "F.S.B." appear in federal institutions name"

Office of Thrift Supervision
Consumer Programs
Washington,   DC 20552
800-842-6929

Federal credit unions (words "Federal Credit Union" appear in institution's name)

National Credit Union Administration
1775   Duke Street
Alexandria   VA  22314
703-518-6360

State chartered banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve System

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Div. of Compliance & Consumer Affairs
Washington,  DC  20429
202-934-FDIC

Air, surface, or rail common carriers regulated by former Civil Aeronautics Board of Interstate Commerce Commission

Department of Transportation
Office of Financial Management
Washington,   DC   20590
202-366-1306

Activities subject to the Packers and Stockyards  Act,   1921

Department of the Agriculture
Office of Deputy Administrator-GIPSA
Washington,  DC   20250
202-720-7051

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