Employers Required to Use New FCRA Notices come January 1, 2013

This blog post originally appeared in an Employer Alert published by McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC's Labor and Employment Group in October 2012. The Employer Alert can be accessed here.

The newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) recently issued regulations that modify the notices required under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). The new regulations include one change that is significant to employers who regularly obtain criminal background reports, credit history reports, and other background checks on their applicants and employees.

The CFPB's regulations modify the “Summary of Consumer Rights under the FCRA.” The FCRA requires that employers provide this standard notice to applicants and employees when, among other things, a pre-adverse action notice is sent. The regulations require that employers begin using the new form on January 1, 2013; until then, employers should continue to use the old form.

The biggest change to the notice is that consumers are now directed to the CFPB to obtain information about their rights under the FCRA, rather than to the Federal Trade Commission. (The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2010, transferred rulemaking authority over the FCRA to the CFPB.) The CFPB made similar changes to the notices that consumer reporting agencies are required to provide.

Model forms are available in the appendix to the FCRA regulations at 12 C.F.R. § 1022 and likely will be posted on the CFPB’s website, www.consumerfinance.gov, come the new year. The new form can also be downloaded here (.pdf).

In light of the significant changes to the regulatory framework surrounding the FCRA and the increasing concern about consumer privacy, we can expect that this will not be the CFPB’s last word on employee screening and background checks. We will keep you updated on additional changes to the FCRA in the future.