United States Code, Title 15 – Commerce and Trade, Chapter 41 – Consumer Credit Reporting, Subchapter III – Credit Reporting Agencies, subsection 1681 – Congressional findings and statement of purpose states:
“(a) Accuracy and fairness of credit reporting
The Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The banking system is dependent upon fair and accurate credit reporting. Inaccurate credit reports directly impair the efficiency of the banking system, and unfair credit reporting methods undermine the public confidence which is essential to the continued functioning of the banking system.
(2) An elaborate mechanism has been developed for investigating and evaluating the credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, and general reputation of consumers.
(3) Consumer reporting agencies have assumed a vital role in assembling and evaluating consumer credit and other information on consumers.
(4) There is a need to insure that consumer reporting agencies exercise their grave responsibilities with fairness, impartiality, and a respect for the consumer’s right to privacy.
(b) Reasonable procedures
It is the purpose of this subchapter to require that consumer reporting agencies adopt reasonable procedures for meeting the needs of commerce for consumer credit, personnel, insurance, and other information in a manner which is fair and equitable to the consumer, with regard to the confidentiality, accuracy, relevancy, and proper utilization of such information in accordance with the requirements of this subchapter.”
1. Consumer Reporting Agency – Also known as a credit bureau. As defined by 15 U.S.C. §1681a(f):
“. . . any person which, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties, and which uses any means or facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of preparing or furnishing consumer reports.”
2. Full consumer report – (As defined by the Office of Recovery Services/Child Support Services (ORS/CSS)) – A credit report that includes all financial information.
3. Partial consumer report – (As defined by ORS/CSS) – A credit report that contains only the information available from the Social Search or Address Search options in Experian.
Federal Criteria for Releasing Consumer Reports
Consumer reporting agencies may provide credit reports to ORS/CSS on qualified cases in accordance with 15 U.S.C. 1681b (a)(4) and (5):
“(4) In response to a request by the head of a State or local child support enforcement agency (or a State or local government official authorized by the head of such an agency), if the person making the request certifies to the consumer reporting agency that—
(B) the paternity of the consumer for the child to which the obligation relates has been established or acknowledged by the consumer in accordance with State laws under which the obligation arises (if required by those laws);
(C) the person has provided at least 10 days’ prior notice to the consumer whose report is requested, by certified or registered mail to the last known address of the consumer, that the report will be requested; and
(D) the consumer report will be kept confidential, will be used solely for a purpose described in subparagraph (A), and will not be used in connection with any other civil, administrative, or criminal proceeding, or for any other purpose.
Consumer Reports – Penalties
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) prohibits all ORS employees from intentionally accessing, discussing, or sharing any ORS information to satisfy any personal reason, interest or curiosity. This means that you cannot access consumer reports on yourself, co-workers, friends, relatives, neighbors, etc. In addition, 15 U.S.C. 1681q – Obtaining information under false pretenses states:
“Any person who knowingly and willfully obtains information on a consumer from a consumer reporting agency under false pretenses shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 2 years, or both.”
In addition, any ORS employee who intentionally violates this policy is subject to disciplinary action in accordance with R477-11-1 Disciplinary Action and R477-11-2 Dismissal or Demotion.
“R477-11-1. Disciplinary Action.
“(1) Agency management may discipline any employee for any of the following causes or reasons:
(a) noncompliance with these rules, agency or other applicable policies, including but not limited to safety policies, agency professional standards, standards of conduct and workplace policies;
(b) work performance that is inefficient or incompetent;
(c) failure to maintain skills and adequate performance levels;
(d) insubordination or disloyalty to the orders of a superior;
(e) misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance;
(f) any incident involving intimidation, physical harm, or threats of physical harm against co- workers, management, or the public;
(g) no longer meets the requirements of the position . . .”
R477-11-2. Dismissal or Demotion
“An employee may be dismissed or demoted for cause under Subsection R477-10-2(3)(e) and Section R477- 11-1, and through the process outlined in this rule.”
Consumer Report Access
ORS contracts with one consumer reporting agency, Experian, for all consumer reports. There are strict requirements for accessing a consumer report. They are as follows:
1. Only authorized individuals may access consumer reports;
2. A report may only be accessed for the purpose of carrying out the individual’s official duties; and,
3. The authorized individual may only access a credit report on alleged father’s or NCP’s for whom s/he is the responsible worker.
NOTE: When training another worker to access consumer reports, only use “live cases” in your team’s portion of the alphabet. Remember never access a credit report on yourself, the person you are training, a co-worker, a friend, a relative, a neighbor, etc.
NOTE: The Work Number locate resource is owned and maintained by Equifax, another consumer reporting agency. While ORS contracts with Experian for consumer reporting services, Work Number information should be considered a consumer report because it is owned and maintained by Equifax.
Full Consumer Report Criteria
A request for a full consumer report includes financial information and becomes a permanent part of that person’s report. ORS/CSS employees are not authorized to access full consumer reports.
Partial Consumer Report Criteria
A partial consumer report does not become a permanent part of the person’s report because financial information is not included in the report.
You may access only a PARTIAL consumer report if:
1. The inquiry is based on an individual with an active CSS case;
2. Paternity has not been established; and/or,
3. A support order has not been established and the alleged father or NCP has not been served with a Notice of Agency Action.
Consumer Report Accessed in Error
Only access a consumer report according to the criteria listed above and on those individuals identified in the criteria. If a consumer report is accessed in error, take the following steps;
1. Report the violation.
2. Document the error – Narrate the error in the case level narratives. Make sure to include:
a. Enough information and detail of the problem; and,
b. Document that the matter was referred to the ORS Program Specialist for resolution.
3. Send the original consumer report(s) to the ORS Program Specialist. You must include the case number, your name, and your telephone number. After the ORS Program Specialist receives this information, s/he will send a letter to each of the applicable Credit Bureau(s) requesting that they delete the CSS inquiry record.
NOTE: It may take up to six months to have the CSS inquiry deleted from the individual’s consumer report.