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Prescreening Customers & FCRA Violations

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Our retail department wants to send debit cards out to customers that (1) currently just use an ATM card and (2) meet certain criteria. The department wants to "prescreen" by using the credit score of the customers with ATM cards only. No new product is technically being solicited, as the customer is merely receiving more access to their account. Would this violate the provisions of FCRA?

Prescreening is allowed under 604(c) of the FCRA and is associated with the granting of credit or insurance. You do not indicate that any line of credit is associated with the debit card. While it could be, there is no guarantee of credit as would be required.

Section 604 of the FCRA was designed to protect the privacy of consumers. A commonly used reason to access a credit report is a "legitimate business purpose". But what the Act actually allows is as follows:

604(F) otherwise has a legitimate business need for the information

(i) in connection with a business transaction that is initiated by the consumer; or

(ii) to review an account to determine whether the consumer continues to meet the terms of the account.

It is a personal opinion that access to the reports is not permissible in that this transaction does not include a firm offer of credit, was not initiated by the consumer, nor is it for the review of a current relationship to determine continued eligibility as an ATM card doesn't justify access.

First published on 04/07/03

First published on 04/07/2003

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