character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living 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 (1) credit or insurance to be used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, or (2) employment purposes, or (3) other purposes authorized under the FCRA.” 15 U.S.C. Section 1681a(d).
A credit reporting agency is any “person which, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties, and which uses any means or facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of preparing or furnishing consumer reports.” 15 U.S.C. Section 1681a(f).
Creditors subscribe to the CRAs to become Data Furnishers, thus enabling the sharing of billions of pieces of information each month on nearly every adult in the country. Importantly, therefore, the Data Furnishers (i.e., creditors, banks, note holders) are the CRA customers, not consumers. Data furnishers pay billions each year to provide the backbone of the credit reporting scheme.