The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is an agency of the United States government responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector. CFPB’s jurisdiction includes banks, credit unions, securities firms, payday lenders, mortgage-servicing operations, foreclosure relief services, debt collectors, and other financial companies operating in the United States. Since its founding, the CFPB has used technology tools to monitor how financial entities used social media and algorithms to target consumers.

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On July 12, 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an advisory opinion related to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that included a warning to consumer reporting agencies not to use name-only matching procedures for information provided in a consumer report.

The CFPB’s position is that name-only matching procedures violate the permissible purpose requirement in FCRA section 604(a)(3); that is, a consumer reporting agency may only furnish a consumer report under certain specific circumstances listed in the FCRA. SI typically relies on the requirement that our reports will be used solely for employment purposes.

The CFPB further warned that including a disclaimer in the report, such as “this record was matched to the subject by First Name, Last Name ONLY and may not belong to your subject; your further review of the [source] is required in order to determine if this is your subject” does not adequately address the problem of using name-only matching procedures because the report may include information about a person other than the person for whom the CRA has a permissible purpose. In the CFPB’s view, a disclaimer “will not change the fact that the consumer reporting company has failed to satisfy the requirements of 604(a)(3) and has provided a consumer report about a person lacking a permissible purpose with respect to that person.”

A CFPB advisory opinion reflects the position of the CFPB that it will take in its investigations and enforcement actions, and courts are supposed to defer to an agency’s interpretation of the laws that it administers.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), criminal convictions can appear in a background report regardless of when they occurred. It does not matter how old the conviction is. However, some states have passed their own legislation similar to the FCRA that does place restrictions on reporting criminal convictions.

Which states restrict reporting on convictions?

California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, New York, New Hampshire, Texas, and Washington all have laws that limit the scope of reporting criminal convictions to seven years. In Hawaii, the seven-year limit is for felonies only; the reporting of misdemeanors is limited to five years. The District of Columbia limits the reporting of criminal convictions to 10 years.

All states not listed above follow the FCRA rule that criminal convictions can appear in a background report regardless of when they occurred.

The Salary Exception States

Seven of the states listed above allow an exception to their rule of limiting reporting criminal convictions to seven years. The exception is based on the salary the candidate is expected to make. If the salary exceeds a certain threshold, the seven-year limitation does not apply, and criminal convictions can appear in the candidate’s background report regardless of when they occurred.

Salary Exception StatesCandidate’s Potential Salary Threshold
Colorado$75,000
Kansas$20,000
Maryland$20,000
New Hampshire$20,000
New York$25,000
Texas$75,000
Washington$20,000