FTC Testifies Before Senate Committee that Enforcement of FCRA Remains a Top Priority

Federal Trade Commission

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On July 12, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – a U.S. government agency promoting consumer protection – testified before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee that “vigorous” enforcement of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) remains a top priority and outlined efforts to educate consumers and businesses about rights and responsibilities under the law, according to an FTC press release.

Testifying on behalf of the FTC at a hearing on credit bureaus and the FCRA, Maneesha Mithal, Associate Director of the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, noted that the FTC has played a key role in the implementation, enforcement, and interpretation of the FCRA since its enactment in 1970. He noted that “vigorous enforcement of the FCRA continues to be a top priority” for the FTC.

The FCRA – the law governing background checks for employment purposes – requires consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to follow reasonable procedures to ensure they provide consumer report information to those with a “permissible purpose” for receiving it, maintain reasonable procedures to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of the information, and allow consumers to dispute and correct information in their consumer reports.

Mithal testified that the FTC has brought more than 30 actions to enforce the FCRA against CRAs, users of consumer reports, and furnishers of information to CRAs in the last decade. As the consumer reporting system evolves and new technologies and business practices emerge, the FTC continues to educate consumers and businesses on their respective rights and obligations under the FCRA.

In May 2017, the FTC published a blog telling employers to keep required FCRA disclosures simple when procuring background screening reports on job applicants from third-party screeners. Another FTC blog published in February 2017 reminded users who receive information from CRAs that they must comply with the FCRA and not “double-dip” and get a report for one purpose but use if for a different purpose.

The FTC’s testimony also outlined the agency’s efforts to protect consumer privacy and promote data security. The FTC has brought more than 60 law enforcement actions against companies that allegedly engaged in unreasonable data security practices. The FTC offers consumer education material about data security and provides extensive guidance to businesses about how to protect the data in their care.

In July 2018, the FTC announced that a company agreed to settle charges of falsely claiming to comply with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework which allows the transfer of consumer data from European Union (EU) countries to the United States (U.S.). FTC Chairman Joe Simons stated the settlement “demonstrates the FTC’s continuing commitment to vigorous enforcement of the Privacy Shield.”

In September 2017, three companies agreed to settle FTC charges that they misled consumers about their participation in the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework, the first such cases brought by the FTC. Companies joining Privacy Shield are subject to the jurisdiction of the FTC or the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and must certify their compliance to the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC).

ESR Adheres to FTC, FCRA & Privacy Shield Regulations

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) adheres to FTC and FCRA regulations regarding background checks. ESR was also one of the first adopters of the Privacy Shield Framework and the DOC’s International Trade Administration (ITA) certified ESR’s adherence to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework on August 12, 2016, and to the Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework on March 5, 2018. For more information, visit www.esrcheck.com.

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