Advisory Opinion to Hahn (12-23-97)

December 23, 1997

Mr. Douglas G. Hahn, President
HR Plus
2902 Evergreen Parkway
Suite 100
Evergreen, Colorado 80439

Re: Section 604(b) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act 

Dear Mr. Hahn:

I am writing in response to your October 8, 1997, request for the staff's views on the requirement found in Section 604(b)(1)(B) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that a consumer reporting agency provide a copy of the summary of consumer rights prescribed by the Commission with each consumer report that the agency provides for employment purposes. You ask whether there is any alternative under Section 604(b)(1)(B) to appending the summary to each consumer report. You state that your agency often sends reports by facsimile transmission and that it is frustrating to those clients who purchase large numbers of reports to have their equipment tied up with repeated transmissions of the two-page summary of rights.

Section 604(b)(1)(B) of the FCRA requires consumer reporting agencies that provide reports for employment purposes to provide "with the report" a copy of the summary of consumer rights prescribed by the Commission. Section 604(b)(1)(B) was included in the FCRA to ensure that every employer who uses a consumer report has the summary of rights readily available so that it may be included in any pre-adverse action disclosure required by Section 604(b)(3)(B).

Section 602(b) of the FCRA requires consumer reporting agencies to adopt "reasonable procedures" for furnishing consumer reports. In the context of complying with Section 604(b)(1)(B), it is our view that consumer reporting agencies must have in place procedures to ensure that their customers are given sufficient copies of the summary of consumer rights to match any consumer reports provided for employment purposes. Obviously, the ideal method to ensure compliance with Section 604(b)(1)(B) is to attach a copy of the summary when furnishing a consumer report. We do not believe, however, that Section 604(b)(1)(B) requires that a copy of the consumer summary be physically attached to each report at all times during the process by which the report is transmitted from the consumer reporting agency to its customer. In our view, a consumer reporting agency may satisfy this requirement by ensuring that sufficient copies of the summary are given to its customers so that the summary may be attached to each consumer report when the report is received. It would help ensure compliance if the consumer reports contain a clear and conspicuous reference to the fact that the summary of rights must be associated with each report as required by Section 604(b)(1)(B). In this scenario, the consumer reporting agency complies with Section 604(b)(1)(B) because it "provides (the summary) with the report" by ensuring that it is attached to the report upon receipt.

Please note that the consumer reporting agency is responsible for ensuring that the consumer report is joined with the summary of rights when its customer receives the report. The agency must ensure that its customers understand the duties imposed by Section 604(b) and will comply as appropriate.

I hope that this information is helpful to you. The views I have expressed constitute informal staff opinions and are advisory in nature and not binding on the Commission.

Sincerely,

William Haynes
Attorney
Division of Credit Practices