Should I Become Fair Credit Reporting Act Certified?

“John, I work in the credit industry and I would like to learn more about the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Are there places I can go to take classes about the FCRA?”

The answer to your question is yes, you can take courses to learn more about the FCRA and you can even become FCRA Certified if you do well enough on the certification test. The credit industry has their own trade association.  It’s called the Consumer Data Industry Association, or CDIA.  The CDIA has their own Learning Center and offers two FCRA certification exams, one for users of credit report data and one for furnishers of information to the credit reporting agencies.

I have taken their exams twice.  Once in 1991 when I started at Equifax and then again last year. The CDIA online class and exam are very well done and also very challenging, which makes sense because if the exam was easy then why even have an exam?

Anyone who pulls credit reports or provides information to the credit reporting agencies should become FCRA certified.  The rules regarding credit reports are extensive and complicated and you don’t want to get yourself in trouble by pulling credit reports without a permissible reason for doing so. And, you certainly don’t want to provide information to the credit bureaus that somehow violates the FCRA. Finally, you have to be familiar with your obligations when a consumer challenges information on a credit report. You’ll learn all of these things as part of the FCRA certification process.

There are some restrictions regarding the FCRA certification exam.  For example, credit repair company employees are not allowed to take the FCRA certification exam or, better said, the CDIA won’t allow a credit repair employee to take their FCRA certification exam.  According to the CDIA’s website, “We are sorry, but no person may take an exam if that person is an employee of or under contract with a company that is required or is likely to be required to comply with the federal Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA).”

The National Consumer Reporting Association (or NCRA) also provides an FCRA certification but it’s not terribly clear on their website how you actually take the test. Finally, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners or NAPBS also offers a basic and more advanced FCRA certification exam.

Credit Reporting Expert, John Ulzheimer, is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and CreditSesame.com, founder of www.creditexpertwitness.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry.  You can follow John on Twitter here.

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