On July 9, 2009, the TALX Corporation, a subsidiary of Equifax Inc., agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated federal law by failing to provide certain disclosures to users of their consumer reports and to entities that provide information for consumer reports. The proposed settlement requires TALX to pay a $350,000 civil penalty and bars future violations.
The proposed settlement requires TALX to provide the required notices to users and furnishers. If TALX provides the notices electronically, it must follow certain specifications to make the notices “clear and prominent.” Specifically, the notices must be unavoidable, of a size and shade and on the screen for a duration sufficient for an ordinary consumer to read and comprehend them, easily printable, and presented on the principal screen or landing page where the disclosure is relevant. These requirements are designed to ensure that the notices will be effective in communicating the information online.
TALX sells income and employment history information about consumers to lenders, pre-employment screeners, and others for use in determining their eligibility for credit, employment, or other purposes, which makes it a consumer reporting agency subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), according to the FTC. The company allegedly violated the FCRA by not providing the “Notice to Users of Consumer Reports: Obligations of Users Under the FCRA,” which notifies users of consumer reports of their statutory obligations, including notifying individuals if the user takes adverse action against them based on their consumer report. The company also failed to provide the “Notice to Furnishers of Information: Obligations of Furnishers Under the FCRA,” which notifies furnishers – entities that furnish information for consumer reports – of their obligations to provide accurate information, correct and update inaccurate information, and reinvestigate consumer disputes.
The proposed settlement also contains record-keeping and reporting provisions to allow the FTC to monitor compliance with the order.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to refer the proposed complaint and stipulated final order to the U.S. Department of Justice for filing on the FTC’s behalf was 4-0. The documents were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. A complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. Stipulated court orders are for settlement purposes only and do not necessarily constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Stipulated orders have the force of law when signed by the judge.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
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Bureau of Consumer Protection
(FTC File No. 0723173)
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