Have you talked to your credit reporting agency about becoming Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) certified yet? Like many new programs, the target roll out date was delayed; however, the program is now online and certification is more important than ever. If you have not already spoken with your credit report provider, now is the perfect time to make that call and start the certification process. It’s free to mortgage originators who are customers of members of the National Credit Reporting Association (NCRA), which represents approximately 80 percent of the credit reporting agencies in the U.S. that can produce a credit report that meets Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) standards for mortgage lending.
Late last year, I reported about the new certification program designed for the users of credit reports (employees of mortgage lenders and property managers/landlords) by the NCRA. This program was developed to keep up with the ever-increasing regulatory environment. In the months since the first report, it is clear by the actions of the national credit repositories, federal agencies, and the consumer litigation trends that this is going to be a more important program than was originally anticipated.
NCRA developed the program specifically to assist the users of consumer credit reports 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 crucial.
Those who participate in the certification program will be provided with an online study guide (printable if you prefer) and the opportunity to take the certification test. A major portion of the test is knowledge of the 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 of 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.
Due to the unfortunate continued misuse of consumer credit information which results in identity theft and data breaches, some type of FCRA education may be a requirement for access to consumer credit information in the near future. Don’t be caught with the masses rushing to beat a deadline when that requirement is implemented. Take the initiative to being a better steward of the consumer’s information and to protect your company from the problems associated with mistakes in handling consumer data by getting FCRA certified this summer.
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 minutes 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 an FCRA certification. Retesting is allowed (after 24 hours) if the person is not successful on the first attempt. After successfully completing the test, an FCRA Certification will be downloaded to document the 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.
To obtain access to the FCRA certification program, ask your credit report provider if they are a member of the NCRA or contact the NCRA at www.ncrainc.org to locate an agency near you that can sponsor your FCRA certification program today.
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]