UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20580
Division of Credit Practices
Helen Goff Foster
August 27, 1998
Michael W. Haner
Electronic Security Service
Houston, Texas 77087
RE: Applicability of FCRA to Commercial Credit
Dear Mr. Haner:
This is in response to your letter concerning the applicability
of the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") to reports
disseminated by Dun & Bradstreet ("D&B"). Your
letter indicates that you are the sole proprietor in a business.
You ask whether D&B's report on your business is a consumer
report under the FCRA, because you are personally liable for the
financial obligations of the business and the report contains
information on you personally in its discussion of the company
history. In our opinion, it is not.
Section 603(d) of the FCRA specifically defines "consumer
report" as the communication of information which bears on
the consumer's credit, character, general reputation,
personal characteristics, or mode of living and "which is
used or expected to be used or collected in whole or in part for
the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing the consumer's
eligibility" for credit, insurance, employment or other permissible
purpose. In the scenario you present, D&B reports information
that it collects, and expects to be used, to evaluate your business.
Neither your personal liability for the debts of that business,
nor the inclusion of personal information about you in the report,
changes the fact that the information in the report is collected
and provided for commercial purposes. Commentary to the Fair Credit
Reporting Act, 16 C.F.R. Part 600 Appendix, 55 Fed. Reg. 18,804,
18,810 (May 4, 1990), comment 603(d)-3C. Thus, the D&B report
you describe is a commercial report, which is not subject to the
provisions of the FCRA.
You have posed two additional questions regarding the applicability
of specific FCRA provisions to your scenario. In light of our
conclusion that the FCRA does not apply to the report you describe,
however, the remaining two questions are moot.
The opinions set forth in this informal staff letter are not
binding on the Commission.
Helen G. Foster