By definition, an Investigative Consumer Report (ICR) is a consumer report which contains information on a consumer’s character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living (lifestyle) obtained through personal interviews. An ICR does not include information on credit obtained from a creditor, see 603(e). Because an ICR is a subset of a consumer report, all of the limitations mentioned in the FRCA Mandatory Limitations on Reporting by a CRA section also apply to ICRs.
Interviews with Subjective Information
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which regulates the FCRA, considers that the act of obtaining subjective information constitutes an ICR. A typical ICR performed by many CRAs is an employment or educational verification. However, not all of these types of checks are necessarily classified as an ICR. When the CRA merely verifies the dates of employment, job title, salary or degree earned, this act is not considered to be an ICR because no subjective information has been obtained. See FTC Letter Hinkle, July 9, 1998. However, if a CRA asks about the consumer’s job performance, such as whether the employer would re-hire a consumer, then the report becomes an ICR because the FTC considers this as obtaining subjective information.
Additional restrictions per FCRA §606
- A disclosure informing the consumer that an ICR may be obtained.
Disclosure to be sent to consumer within 3 days of the request for the ICR. Practice note: the initial authorization and consent form may contain this notice. This notice also requires that the consumer be advised of his right to request disclosure of the nature and scope of the report and to request a copy of the summary of rights under the FCRA. For employment reports this again would be handled by the initial authorization and consent form and the initial providing of the summary of rights.
- Upon request by the consumer the end user shall provide disclosure of the report within 5 days of the receipt of the report. Practice note: a ICR may best be drafted by not naming the sources of information by name as the consumer is entitled to a copy of an employment report under §604. Edits are not permitted in these disclosures.
- Except as allowed by §613, an ICR may not provide public record information that has not been verified within 30 days of the report.
- Information is not to be reported unless it is confirmed by an additional source that has independent and has direct knowledge of the information. Example: Interviewee states the subject hosts drug parties in his home. Before that is reported this must be confirmed by another source noted above. An exception to this is the source that is the best possible source of information. Example: In the case above, it could be an arresting officer or in the employment setting regarding the quality of the subject’s work the best source would normally be the former supervisor.
Additional Restrictions per FCRA §614
All other information beyond public record information in the ICR cannot be older than 3 months.
States Can Have ICR Restrictions
Several states have similar statutes regulating ICRs. Where there are operational differences, they are noted in the look-ups in the State Rules Register under restrictions on CRAs.