The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Fair Credit Act: Frequently Asked Questions

Reference Number: MTAS-1578
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: February 23, 2016

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Question: You advertise vacancies for cashiers and receive 100 applications. You want credit reports on each applicant because you plan to eliminate those with poor credit histories. What are your obligations?
Answer: You can get credit reports if you notify each applicant in writing that a credit report may be requested and if you receive the applicant’s written consent. Before you reject an applicant based on credit report information, you must make a pre-adverse action disclosure that includes a copy of the credit report and the summary of consumer rights under the FCRA. Once you’ve rejected an applicant, you must provide an adverse action notice if credit report information affected your decision.

Question: You are considering a number of your long-term employees for a major promotion. You want to check their consumer reports to ensure that only responsible individuals are considered for the position. What are your obligations?
Answer: You cannot get consumer reports unless the employees have been notified that reports may be obtained and have given their written permission. If the employees gave written permission in the past, you need only make sure that the employees receive or have received a “separate document” notice that reports may be obtained during the course of their employment — no more notice or permission is required. If employees have not received notice and given permission, you must notify the employees and get their written permission before you get their reports. In each case where information in the report influences your decision to deny promotion, you must provide the employee with a pre-adverse action disclosure. The employee also must receive an adverse action notice once you have selected another individual for the job.

Question: A job applicant gives you the okay to get a consumer report. Although the credit history is poor and that’sa negative factor, the applicant’s lack of relevant experience carries more weight in your decision not to hire. What’s your responsibility?
Answer: In any case where information in a consumer report is a factor in your decision — even if the report information is not a major consideration — you must follow the procedures mandated by the FCRA. In this case, you would be required to provide the applicant a pre-adverse action disclosure before you reject his or her application. When you formally reject the applicant, you would be required to provide an adverse action notice.

Question: The applicants for a sensitive financial position have authorized you to obtain credit reports. You reject one applicant, whose credit report shows a debt load that may be too high for the proposed salary, even though the report shows a good repayment history. You turn down another, whose credit report shows only one credit account, because you want someone who has shown more financial responsibility. Are you obliged to provide any notices to these applicants?
Answer: Both applicants are entitled to a pre-adverse action disclosure and an adverse action notice. If any information in the credit report influences an adverse decision, the applicant is entitled to the notices — even when the information isn’t negative.

Responsible: