FCRA Certification for Your Employees: Coming to a Credit Reporting Agency Near You!
To keep up with today’s ever-increasing regulatory environment, the National Credit Reporting Association Inc. (NCRA) has developed a certification program designed for the users of credit reports (employees of mortgage lenders, and property managers/landlords) to assist them in understanding the various federal laws and national credit repository guidelines that regulate their access to credit data. Access to consumer credit data is critical to their business operations and for continued access, tight compliance with these regulations is mandatory. Those who participate in the certification program will be provided a study guide and expected to complete a certification test. A major portion of the test is knowledge of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Additionally, the test will cover areas of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA the 2003 overhaul to the FCRA), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB), the Red Flags Rule, and specific national credit repository requirements that also impact a credit report user’s access to consumer credit data. A solid working knowledge of the responsibilities for those who come into contact with consumer credit reports is required by federal law. Any company that is granted access to a consumer’s credit report data needs to be sure that anyone in their organization with access to these reports knows how to properly obtain that credit data and how they maintain and dispose of it when the transaction is complete. This entire process is being scrutinized more than any other time in history, both internally by our own industry, and by the federal regulators who oversee compliance. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have authority over this data as well as over those who use it, and have been taking action for its misuse. With the devastating problems millions of Americans have had due to the abuse of the information by fraudsters and computer hackers looking for any possible gateway into the systems, the increased scrutiny is not going to subside. Being certified on your knowledge of the regulations about the safeguarding of this data is an important step to being assured your access to consumer credit bureau data will continue. The program is online and features a comprehensive study guide that provides all of the materials needed to be able to learn the information required to pass the test. The test features 30 multiple choice and true/false questions that can be taken in an open book (if the user prints the study guide) format. Since only 45 min. is provided to complete the 30 questions, the test-taker must know the data thoroughly to be able to answer 75 percent of the questions accurately and to obtain FCRA Certification. Retesting is allowed if the person is not successful on the first attempt. After successfully completing the test, an FCRA Certification will be downloaded to document successful completion of the program. Retesting is suggested every year to keep up with the latest changes in the complex regulatory world in which we operate. Developed by NCRA and sponsored by 80 percent of the credit reporting agencies in the U.S. that can provide credit reports that meet the standards of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) for mortgage lending, the test will be provided free of charge to the customers of NCRA member credit reporting agencies. It is important to note that while certification is not currently mandatory, there have been strong indications from at least one of the national repositories and federal agencies that further education to the laws and advanced training may be required in the near future. To obtain access to the FCRA Certification Program, ask your credit reporting provider if they are a member of the NCRA or contact the NCRA at NCRAInc.org to locate an agency near you that can sponsor your FCRA Certification beginning Jan. 1, 2012. Terry W. Clemans is executive director of the National Credit Reporting Association Inc. (NCRA). He may be reached at (630) 539-1525 or e-mail [email protected]