The National Defense Authorization Act as passed by the House and now headed to the Senate includes amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act dealing with the reporting of adverse information on servicemembers by consumer reporting agencies.
The amendments add the defined terms “uniformed consumer” and “deployed uniformed consumer” to the FCRA. A “uniformed consumer” is defined as a consumer who is a member of the uniformed services (i.e. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, Coast Guard, and commissioned corps of the Public Health Administration and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) or the National Guard and is in active service. A “deployed uniformed consumer” is defined as a uniformed consumer who serves in a combat zone, aboard a U.S. combatant, support, or auxiliary vessel, or in a deployment and is in active duty for such service for not less than 30 days.
The amendments impose the following prohibition and requirements:
- A CRA is prohibited from reporting “any item of adverse information about a uniformed consumer, if the action or inaction that gave rise to the item occurred while the consumer was a deployed uniformed consumer.”
- If an item of adverse information is included in a consumer’s file and the consumer provides the CRA with “appropriate proof, including official orders” that the consumer was a deployed uniformed consumer at the time of the action or inaction that gave rise to the item occurred, the CRA must “promptly delete the item of adverse information from the [consumer’s] file and notify the consumer and the furnisher of the information of the deletion.”
- If a CRA receives any item of adverse information about a consumer who has provided appropriate proof that he or she is a uniformed consumer, the CRA must promptly notify the consumer that it has received such item, provide a description of the item, and provide the method by which the consumer can dispute the item’s validity.
- For a consumer who has provided appropriate proof to the CRA that he or she is a uniformed consumer, if the consumer gives the CRA separate contact information to be used while the consumer is a uniformed consumer, the CRA must use that contact information for all communications while the consumer is a uniformed consumer.
The amendments are accompanied by a statement of the “sense of Congress” that anyone using a consumer report that contains an item of adverse information arising from an action or inaction that occurred while the consumer was a uniformed consumer should “take such fact into account when evaluating the creditworthiness of the consumer.”