A basic "tenant" of credit reporting

Funny thing about the Fair Credit Reporting Act:  It’s been around since 1970, it’s broad in scope, and yet a lot of businesses with obligations under the law may not be focusing on compliance.  Warning letters the FTC just sent to six companies in a particular line of work underscore the need to double-check your FCRA responsibilities.

The letters went to companies that collect information about tenants’ rental histories and then share it with prospective landlords thinking about renting to a certain tenant.  According to FTC staff, “If you assemble or evaluate information on individuals’ rental histories and provide this information to landlords so that they can screen tenants, you are a consumer reporting agency (CRA) that is required to comply with the FCRA.”

That kicks in certain requirements designed to protect the privacy of people whose information is collected.  For example, companies collecting and sharing that information have an obligation to make sure that whoever is asking has a legitimate reason — a “permissible purpose” — for getting the info.  It’s probably OK if it’s to screen prospective tenants, but what about pretextual reasons like snooping on a neighbor or for marketing purposes?  Put that in the NOPE category.

Companies compiling the information also have an obligation to ensure it’s as accurate as possible.  If consumers ask, they have to give them copies of their reports and allow them to dispute anything that might be inaccurate.

Companies also have a legal obligation to remind landlords of certain responsibilities they have under the FCRA.  For example, if a landlord denies housing on the basis of information in a report, the landlord has to notify the applicant of that fact, give the applicant information about how to get a free copy of their report, and tell them how to dispute info the applicant thinks may be inaccurate.

Here’s who got the warning letters:

  • The BlueChip Group LLC – donotrentto.com
  • M & R Rental Properties – badtenantlistings.com
  • The Landlord Protection Agency – thelpa.com
  • National Tenant Network – ntnonline.com
  • 123 Rent Inc. – therentersblacklist.com
  • Tenancy Bureau Inc. – tenancybureau.us

The letter make it clear that the FTC hasn’t evaluated the companies’ practices to determine if they’re complying with the FCRA, but suggests they visit the Credit Reporting page in the BCP Business Center for FCRA compliance resources.

Not a bad idea, we say.

 

5 Comments

>> Leave a Comment | Comment Policy

Thanks Lesley. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The FTC makes a great point in making sure that these so called list companies comply with the letter of the law pertaining to the FCRA. However; this practice should be applied to the overall marketplace specially the so called Loan Servicers of Mortgages that have been violating this law since the inception of it. These so called Servicers which in reality are ( Collectors ) use this method to strong arm the people facing mortgage hardships and utilize their reporting privileges to blacklist homeowners in distress from obtaining the programs they can qualify for such as HAMP etc.. and at the end they receive a hefty compensation for their collection role and misreporting. This law was in acted to provide fair reporting of ones credit status and not to be used for black listing anyone consumer from their ability to qualify for additional services and programs. The FTC should really look at the biggest cooperates of these violations "the Mortgage Loan Servicers"

I know this pertains to leasing, but what about collection sgencies who "purchase" old information that is not true, then reports to the Credit Bureaus that this is a newly opened account ? I had a credit card, sent to.me by PayPal, and I never received it. The folliwing month I received a bill for $2500.00, all charges msde by someone else, probably intercepted from my mailbox illegally and maxed out in less than a month. I called Paypal and immediately closed this account, they did an investigation and found me "not responsible for this debt". This happened in December 2011, when I was a victim.of identity theft, but this unscrupulous cillection company "purchased" the information in February 2013, reported to the Credit Reporting Agencies that this was a new debt, along with another $500.00 tacked on for "interest charges". My credit score plummeted. Now, I am having difficulty getting the bureaus to remove this erroneous debt. I have filed dispute after dispute, but they keep contacting this collection sgency to verify accurscy and of course, every time it is reported back that the debt is real. I am pulling my hair out. A senior citizen, I only have two open credit accounts, both with a perfect payment record, How do I rectify this dituation, with a collection agency who is classified as "unfair, with harrassment issues, and other reports made against them". I am hearrbroken, and very frustrated that tge credit sgencies sworn to protect me are constsntky working against me. I need help !!

Great info - alredy shared it with my peeps.

Why American businessmen told me that it is anti-business law?

Leave A Comment

Don't use this blog to report fraud or deceptive practices. To file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, please use the FTC Complaint Assistant.

PRIVACY ACT STATEMENT: It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act and the Federal Information Security Management Act authorize this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of our public records system, and user names are also part of our computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in our Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how we handle information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.