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Title 12 Part 1022 → Subpart N

Title 12 → Chapter X → Part 1022 → Subpart N

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations e-CFR

Title 12 Part 1022 → Subpart N

e-CFR data is current as of September 16, 2019

Title 12Chapter XPart 1022 → Subpart N


Title 12: Banks and Banking
PART 1022—FAIR CREDIT REPORTING (REGULATION V)


§1022.130   Definitions

For purposes of this subpart, the following definitions apply:

(a) Annual file disclosure means a file disclosure that is provided to a consumer, upon consumer request and without charge, once in any twelve month period, in compliance with section 612(a) of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681j(a).

(b) Associated consumer reporting agency means a consumer reporting agency that owns or maintains consumer files housed within systems operated by one or more nationwide consumer reporting agencies.

(c) Consumer report has the meaning provided in section 603(d) of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681a(d).

(d) Consumer reporting agency has the meaning provided in section 603(f) of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681a(f).

(e) Extraordinary request volume occurs when the number of consumers requesting or attempting to request file disclosures during any twenty-four hour period is more than 175 percent of the rolling ninety-day daily average of consumers requesting or attempting to request file disclosures. For example, if over the previous ninety days an average of one hundred consumers per day requested or attempted to request file disclosures, then extraordinary request volume would be any volume greater than 175 percent of one hundred, i.e., 176 or more requests in a single twenty-four hour period.

(f) File disclosure means a disclosure by a consumer reporting agency pursuant to section 609 of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681g.

(g) High request volume occurs when the number of consumers requesting or attempting to request file disclosures during any twenty-four hour period is more than 125 percent of the rolling ninety-day daily average of consumers requesting or attempting to request file disclosures. For example, if over the previous ninety days an average of one hundred consumers per day requested or attempted to request file disclosures, then high request volume would be any volume greater than 125 percent of one hundred, i.e., 126 or more requests in a single twenty-four hour period.

(h) Nationwide consumer reporting agency means a consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis as defined in section 603(p) of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681a(p).

(i) Nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency has the meaning provided in section 603(w) of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681a(w).

(j) Request method means the method by which a consumer chooses to communicate a request for an annual file disclosure.

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§§1022.131-1022.135   [Reserved]

§1022.136   Centralized source for requesting annual file disclosures from nationwide consumer reporting agencies.

(a) Purpose. The purpose of the centralized source is to enable consumers to make a single request to obtain annual file disclosures from all nationwide consumer reporting agencies, as required under section 612(a) of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681j(a).

(b) Establishment and operation. All nationwide consumer reporting agencies shall jointly design, fund, implement, maintain, and operate a centralized source for the purpose described in Paragraph (a) of this section. The centralized source required by this part shall:

(1) Enable consumers to request annual file disclosures by any of the following request methods, at the consumers' option:

(i) A single, dedicated Web site,

(ii) A single, dedicated toll-free telephone number; and

(iii) Mail directed to a single address;

(2) Be designed, funded, implemented, maintained, and operated in a manner that:

(i) Has adequate capacity to accept requests from the reasonably anticipated volume of consumers contacting the centralized source through each request method, as determined in accordance with Paragraph (c) of this section;

(ii) Collects only as much personally identifiable information as is reasonably necessary to properly identify the consumer as required under the FCRA, section 610(a)(1), 15 U.S.C. 1681h(a)(1), and other applicable laws and regulations, and to process the transaction(s) requested by the consumer;

(iii) Provides information through the centralized source Web site and telephone number regarding how to make a request by all request methods required under paragraph (b)(1) of this section; and

(iv) Provides clear and easily understandable information and instructions to consumers, including, but not necessarily limited to:

(A) Providing information on the progress of the consumer's request while the consumer is engaged in the process of requesting a file disclosure;

(B) For a Web site request method, providing access to a “help” or “frequently asked questions” screen, which includes specific information that consumers might reasonably need to request file disclosures, the answers to questions that consumers might reasonably ask, and instructions whereby a consumer may file a complaint with the centralized source and with the Bureau;

(C) In the event that a consumer requesting a file disclosure through the centralized source cannot be properly identified in accordance with the FCRA, section 610(a)(1), 15 U.S.C. 1681h(a)(1), and other applicable laws and regulations, providing a statement that the consumers' identity cannot be verified; and directions on how to complete the request, including what additional information or documentation will be required to complete the request, and how to submit such information; and

(D) A statement indicating that the consumer has reached the Web site or telephone number for ordering free annual credit reports as required by Federal law; and

(3) Make available to consumers a standardized form established jointly by the nationwide consumer reporting agencies, which consumers may use to make a request for an annual file disclosure, either by mail or on the Web site required under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, from the centralized source required by this part. The form provided at appendix L to part 1022, may be used to comply with this section.

(c) Requirement to anticipate. The nationwide consumer reporting agencies shall implement reasonable procedures to anticipate, and to respond to, the volume of consumers who will contact the centralized source through each request method, to request, or attempt to request, a file disclosure, including developing and implementing contingency plans to address circumstances that are reasonably likely to occur and that may materially and adversely impact the operation of the nationwide consumer reporting agency, a centralized source request method, or the centralized source.

(1) The contingency plans required by this section shall include reasonable measures to minimize the impact of such circumstances on the operation of the centralized source and on consumers contacting, or attempting to contact, the centralized source.

(i) Such reasonable measures to minimize impact shall include, but are not necessarily limited to:

(A) The extent reasonably practicable under the circumstances, providing information to consumers on how to use another available request method;

(B) The extent reasonably practicable under the circumstances, communicating, to a consumer who attempts but is unable to make a request, the fact that a condition exists that has precluded the centralized source from accepting all requests, and the period of time after which the centralized source is reasonably anticipated to be able to accept the consumers' request for an annual file disclosure; and

(C) Taking all reasonable steps to restore the centralized source to normal operating status as quickly as reasonably practicable under the circumstances.

(ii) Reasonable measures to minimize impact may also include, as appropriate, collecting request information but declining to accept the request for processing until a reasonable later time, provided that the consumer is clearly and prominently informed, to the extent reasonably practicable under the circumstances, of when the request will be accepted for processing.

(2) A nationwide consumer reporting agency shall not be deemed in violation of paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section if a centralized source request method is unavailable to accept requests for a reasonable period of time for purposes of conducting maintenance on the request method, provided that the other required request methods remain available during such time.

(d) Disclosures required. If a nationwide consumer reporting agency has the ability to provide a consumer report to a third party relating to a consumer, regardless of whether the consumer report is owned by that nationwide consumer reporting agency or by an associated consumer reporting agency, that nationwide consumer reporting agency shall, upon proper identification in compliance with section 610(a)(1) of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681h(a)(1), provide an annual file disclosure to such consumer if the consumer makes a request through the centralized source.

(e) High request volume and extraordinary request volume—(1) High request volume. Provided that a nationwide consumer reporting agency has implemented reasonable procedures developed in accordance with Paragraph (c) of this section, entitled “requirement to anticipate,” the nationwide consumer reporting agency shall not be deemed in violation of Paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section for any period of time in which a centralized source request method, the centralized source, or the nationwide consumer reporting agency experiences high request volume, if the nationwide consumer reporting agency:

(i) Collects all consumer request information and delays accepting the request for processing until a reasonable later time; and

(ii) Clearly and prominently informs the consumer of when the request will be accepted for processing.

(2) Extraordinary request volume. Provided that the nationwide consumer reporting agency has implemented reasonable procedures developed in compliance with Paragraph (c) of this section, entitled “requirement to anticipate,” the nationwide consumer reporting agency shall not be deemed in violation of Paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section for any period of time during which a particular centralized source request method, the centralized source, or the nationwide consumer reporting agency experiences extraordinary request volume.

(f) Information use and disclosure. Any personally identifiable information collected from consumers as a result of a request for annual file disclosure, or other disclosure required by the FCRA, made through the centralized source, may be used or disclosed by the centralized source or a nationwide consumer reporting agency only:

(1) To provide the annual file disclosure or other disclosure required under the FCRA requested by the consumer;

(2) To process a transaction requested by the consumer at the same time as a request for annual file disclosure or other disclosure;

(3) To comply with applicable legal requirements, including those imposed by the FCRA and this part; and

(4) To update personally identifiable information already maintained by the nationwide consumer reporting agency for the purpose of providing consumer reports, provided that the nationwide consumer reporting agency uses and discloses the updated personally identifiable information subject to the same restrictions that would apply, under any applicable provision of law or regulation, to the information updated or replaced.

(g) Communications provided through centralized source. (1) Any advertising or marketing for products or services, any communications or instructions that advertise or market any products or services, or any request to establish an account through the centralized source must be delayed until after the consumer has obtained his or her annual file disclosure.

(i) In the case of requests made by mail or telephone, the consumer “has obtained his or her annual file disclosure” when the file disclosure is mailed, and the nationwide consumer reporting agency may include advertising for other products or services with the file disclosure.

(ii) In the case of requests made through the centralized source Web site, the consumer “has obtained his or her annual file disclosure” when the file disclosure is delivered to the consumer through the Internet, and the nationwide consumer reporting agency may include advertising for other products or services with the file disclosure.

(2) Any communications, instructions, or permitted advertising or marketing shall not interfere with, detract from, contradict, or otherwise undermine the purpose of the centralized source stated in Paragraph (a) of this section.

(3) Examples of interfering, detracting, inconsistent, and/or undermining communications include:

(i) Centralized source materials that represent, expressly or by implication, that a consumer must purchase a paid product or service in order to receive or to understand the annual file disclosure;

(ii) Centralized source materials that represent, expressly or by implication, that annual file disclosures are not free, or that obtaining an annual file disclosure will have a negative impact on the consumers' credit standing; and

(iii) Centralized source materials that falsely represent, expressly or by implication, that a product or service offered ancillary to receipt of a file disclosure, such as a credit score or credit monitoring service, is free, or fail to clearly and prominently disclose that consumers must cancel a service, advertised as free for an initial period of time, to avoid being charged, if such is the case.

(h) Other practices prohibited through the centralized source. The centralized source shall not:

(1) Contain hyperlinks to commercial or proprietary Web sites until after the consumer has obtained his or her annual file disclosure, except for technical transfers to a Web page on which consumers can request their free annual file disclosure; provided, however, that no hyperlinks to commercial Web sites shall appear on the initial page of the centralized source.

(2) Require consumers to set up an account in connection with obtaining an annual file disclosure; or

(3) Ask or require consumers to agree to terms or conditions in connection with obtaining an annual file disclosure.

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§1022.137   Streamlined process for requesting annual file disclosures from nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies.

(a) Streamlined process requirements. Any nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency shall have a streamlined process for accepting and processing consumer requests for annual file disclosures. The streamlined process required by this part shall:

(1) Enable consumers to request annual file disclosures by a toll-free telephone number that:

(i) Provides clear and prominent instructions for requesting disclosures by any additional available request methods, that do not interfere with, detract from, contradict, or otherwise undermine the ability of consumers to obtain annual file disclosures through the streamlined process required by this part;

(ii) Is published, in conjunction with all other published numbers for the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency, in any telephone directory in which any telephone number for the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency is published; and(iii) Is clearly and prominently posted on any Web site owned or maintained by the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency that is related to consumer reporting, along with instructions for requesting disclosures by any additional available request methods; and

(2) Be designed, funded, implemented, maintained, and operated in a manner that:

(i) Has adequate capacity to accept requests from the reasonably anticipated volume of consumers contacting the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency through the streamlined process, as determined in compliance with Paragraph (b) of this section;

(ii) Collects only as much personal information as is reasonably necessary to properly identify the consumer as required under the FCRA, section 610(a)(1), 15 U.S.C. 1681h(a)(1), and other applicable laws and regulations; and

(iii) Provides clear and easily understandable information and instructions to consumers, including but not necessarily limited to:

(A) Providing information on the status of the consumers request while the consumer is in the process of making a request;

(B) For a Web site request method, providing access to a “help” or “frequently asked questions” screen, which includes more specific information that consumers might reasonably need to order their file disclosure, the answers to questions that consumers might reasonably ask, and instructions whereby a consumer may file a complaint with the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency and with the Bureau; and

(C) In the event that a consumer requesting a file disclosure cannot be properly identified in accordance with the FCRA, section 610(a)(1), 15 U.S.C. 1681h(a)(1), and other applicable laws and regulations, providing a statement that the consumers identity cannot be verified; and directions on how to complete the request, including what additional information or documentation will be required to complete the request, and how to submit such information.

(b) Requirement to anticipate. A nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency shall implement reasonable procedures to anticipate, and respond to, the volume of consumers who will contact the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency through the streamlined process to request, or attempt to request, file disclosures, including developing and implementing contingency plans to address circumstances that are reasonably likely to occur and that may materially and adversely impact the operation of the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency, a request method, or the streamlined process.

(1) The contingency plans required by this section shall include reasonable measures to minimize the impact of such circumstances on the operation of the streamlined process and on consumers contacting, or attempting to contact, the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency through the streamlined process.

(i) Such reasonable measures to minimize impact shall include, but are not necessarily limited to:

(A) To the extent reasonably practicable under the circumstances, providing information to consumers on how to use another available request method;

(B) To the extent reasonably practicable under the circumstances, communicating, to a consumer who attempts but is unable to make a request, the fact that a condition exists that has precluded the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency from accepting all requests, and the period of time after which the agency is reasonably anticipated to be able to accept the consumers request for an annual file disclosure; and

(C) Taking all reasonable steps to restore the streamlined process to normal operating status as quickly as reasonably practicable under the circumstances.

(ii) Measures to minimize impact may also include, as appropriate, collecting request information but declining to accept the request for processing until a reasonable later time, provided that the consumer is clearly and prominently informed, to the extent reasonably practicable under the circumstances, of when the request will be accepted for processing.

(2) A nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency shall not be deemed in violation of paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section if the toll-free telephone number required by this part is unavailable to accept requests for a reasonable period of time for purposes of conducting maintenance on the request method, provided that the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency makes other request methods available to consumers during such time.

(c) High request volume and extraordinary request volume—(1) High request volume. Provided that the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency has implemented reasonable procedures developed in accordance with Paragraph (b) of this section, entitled “requirement to anticipate,” a nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency shall not be deemed in violation of Paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section for any period of time during which a streamlined process request method or the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency experiences high request volume, if the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency:

(i) Collects all consumer request information and delays accepting the request for processing until a reasonable later time; and

(ii) Clearly and prominently informs the consumer of when the request will be accepted for processing.

(2) Extraordinary request volume. Provided that the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency has implemented reasonable procedures developed in accordance with Paragraph (b) of this section, entitled “requirement to anticipate,” a nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency shall not be deemed in violation of Paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section for any period of time during which a streamlined process request method or the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency experiences extraordinary request volume.

(d) Information use and disclosure. Any personally identifiable information collected from consumers as a result of a request for annual file disclosure, or other disclosure required by the FCRA, made through the streamlined process, may be used or disclosed by the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency only:

(1) To provide the annual file disclosure or other disclosure required under the FCRA requested by the consumer;

(2) To process a transaction requested by the consumer at the same time as a request for annual file disclosure or other disclosure;

(3) To comply with applicable legal requirements, including those imposed by the FCRA and this part; and

(4) To update personally identifiable information already maintained by the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency for the purpose of providing consumer reports, provided that the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency uses and discloses the updated personally identifiable information subject to the same restrictions that would apply, under any applicable provision of law or regulation, to the information updated or replaced.

(e) Requirement to accept or redirect requests. If a consumer requests an annual file disclosure through a method other than the streamlined process established by the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency in compliance with this part, a nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency shall:

(1) Accept the consumers request; or

(2) Instruct the consumer how to make the request using the streamlined process required by this part.

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§1022.138   Prevention of deceptive marketing of free credit reports.

(a) For purposes of this section:

(1) AnnualCreditReport.com and (877) 322-8228 means the Uniform Resource Locator address “AnnualCreditReport.com” and toll-free telephone number, (877) 322-8228. These are the locator address and toll-free telephone number currently used by the centralized source. If the locator address or toll-free telephone number changes in the future, the new address or telephone number shall be substituted within a reasonable time.

(2) Free credit report means a file disclosure prepared by or obtained from, directly or indirectly, a nationwide consumer reporting agency (as defined in section 603(p) of the FCRA), that is represented, either expressly or impliedly, to be available to the consumer at no cost if the consumer purchases a product or service, or agrees to purchase a product or service subject to cancellation.

(3) General requirements for disclosures. The disclosures covered by Paragraph (b) of this section shall contain only the prescribed content and comply with the following requirements:

(i) All disclosures shall be prominent;

(ii) All disclosures shall be made in the same language as that principally used in the advertisement;

(iii) Visual disclosures shall be easily readable; in a high degree of contrast from the immediate background on which it appears; in a format so that the disclosure is distinct from other text, such as inside a border; in a distinct type style, such as bold; and parallel to the base of the advertisement or screen;

(iv) Audio disclosures shall be delivered in a slow and deliberate manner and in a reasonably understandable volume and pitch;

(v) Program-length television, radio, or Internet-hosted multimedia advertisement disclosures shall be made at the beginning, near the middle, and at the end of the advertisement; and

(vi) Nothing contrary to, inconsistent with, or that undermines the required disclosures shall be used in any advertisement in any medium, nor shall any audio, visual, or print technique be used that is likely to detract significantly from the communication of any disclosure.

(b) Medium-specific disclosures. All offers of free credit reports shall prominently include the disclosures required by this section.

(1) Television advertisements. (i) All advertisements for free credit reports broadcast on television shall include the following disclosure in close proximity to the first mention of a free credit report: “This is not the free credit report provided for by Federal law.”

(ii) The disclosure shall appear at the same time in the audio and visual part of the advertisement. The visual disclosure shall be at least four percent of the vertical picture height and appear for a minimum of four seconds.

(2) Radio advertisements. All advertisements for free credit reports broadcast on radio shall include the following disclosure in close proximity to the first mention of a free credit report: “This is not the free credit report provided for by Federal law.”

(3) Print advertisements. All advertisements for free credit reports in print shall include the following disclosure in the form specified below and in close proximity to the first mention of a free credit report. The first line of the disclosure shall be centered and contain only the following language: “THIS NOTICE IS REQUIRED BY LAW.” Immediately below the first line of the disclosure the following language shall appear: “You have the right to a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com or (877) 322-8228, the ONLY authorized source under Federal law.” Each letter of the disclosure text shall be, at minimum, one-half the size of the largest character used in the advertisement.

(4) Web sites. Any Web site offering free credit reports must display the disclosure set forth in paragraphs (b)(4)(i), (ii), and (v) of this section on each page that mentions a free credit report and on each page of the ordering process. This disclosure shall be visible across the top of each page where the disclosure is required to appear; shall appear inside a box; and shall appear in the form specified below:

(i) The first element of the disclosure shall be a header that is centered and shall consist of the following text: “THIS NOTICE IS REQUIRED BY LAW. Read more at consumerfinance.gov/learnmore.” Each letter of the header shall be one-half the size of the largest character of the disclosure text required by paragraph (b)(4)(ii) of this section. The reference to consumerfinance.gov/learnmore shall be an operational hyperlink, underlined, and in a color that is a high degree of contrast from the color of the other disclosure text and background color of the box. Until January 1, 2013, www.ftc.gov and the corresponding hyperlink may be substituted for “consumerfinance.gov/learmore” and the corresponding hyperlink;

(ii) The second element of the disclosure shall appear below the header required by paragraph (b)(4)(i) and shall consist of the following text: “You have the right to a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com or (877) 322-8228, the ONLY authorized source under Federal law.” The reference to AnnualCreditReport.com shall be an operational hyperlink to the centralized source, underlined, and in the same color as the hyperlink to consumerfinance.gov/learnmore required in §1022.138(b)(4)(i);

(iii) The color of the text required by §1022.138(b)(4)(i) and (ii) shall be in a high degree of contrast with the background color of the box;

(iv) The background of the box shall be a solid color in a high degree of contrast from the background of the page and the color shall not appear elsewhere on the page;

(v) The third element of the disclosure shall appear below the text required by paragraph (b)(4)(ii) and shall be an operational hyperlink to AnnualCreditReport.com that appears as a centered button containing the following language: “Take me to the authorized source.” The background of this button shall be the same color as the hyperlinks required by §1022.138(b)(4)(i) and (ii) and the text shall be in a high degree of contrast to the background of the button;

(vi) Each character of the text required in paragraph (b)(4)(ii) and (v) of this section shall be, at minimum, the same size as the largest character on the page, including characters in an image or graphic banner;

(vii) Each character of the disclosure shall be displayed as plain text and in a sans serif font, such as Arial; and

(viii) The space between each element of the disclosure required in paragraph (b)(i), (ii), and (v) of this section shall be, at minimum, the same size as the largest character on the page, including characters in an image or graphic banner. The space between the boundaries of the box and the text or button required in §1022.138(b)(i), (ii), and (v) shall be, at minimum, twice the size of the vertical height of the largest character on the page, including characters in an image or graphic banner.

(5) Internet-hosted multimedia advertising. All advertisements for free credit reports disseminated through Internet-hosted multimedia in both audio and visual formats shall include the following disclosure in the form specified below and in close proximity to the first mention of a free credit report. The first line of the disclosure shall be centered and contain only the following language: “THIS NOTICE IS REQUIRED BY LAW.” Immediately below the first line of the disclosure the following language shall appear: “You have the right to a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com or (877) 322-8228, the ONLY authorized source under Federal law.” The disclosure shall appear at the same time in the audio and visual part of the advertisement. If the advertisement contains characters, the visual disclosure shall be, at minimum, the same size as the largest character on the advertisement.

(6) Telephone requests. When consumers call any telephone number, other than the number of the centralized source, appearing in an advertisement that represents free credit reports are available at the number, consumers must receive the following audio disclosure at the first mention of a free credit report: “The following notice is required by law. You have the right to a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com or (877) 322-8228, the only authorized source under Federal law.”

(7) Telemarketing solicitations. When telemarketing sales calls are made that include offers of free credit reports, the call must include at the first mention of a free credit report the following disclosure: “The following notice is required by law. You have the right to a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com or (877) 322-8228, the only authorized source under Federal law.”

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§1022.139   [Reserved]