The Federal Trade Commission has warned the operators of six Web sites that share information about consumers’ rental histories with landlords that they may be subject to the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
The letters inform the recipients that if they meet certain criteria, namely collecting information on tenants and their rental history and providing that information to landlords so they can make judgments about renting to those tenants, they are considered credit reporting agencies and are subject to certain legal requirements.
Among the requirements cited in the letter are the companies’ obligation to protect the privacy of tenants whose information they collect, including ensuring that those requesting information about tenants have a legitimate reason to acquire it.
The letter reminds the companies of their obligation to ensure that the information they provide is accurate, to give consumers a copy of the information about them on request, and to allow consumers to dispute information they believe is inaccurate.
The letters also note that the companies must notify landlords of their requirements if they use the data to deny housing to a tenant, and to notify the sources of their information of the requirement that they provide accurate information.
Companies receiving the letters are The BlueChip Group LLC (www.donotrentto.com), M & R Rental Properties (www.badtenantlistings.com), The Landlord Protection Agency (www.thelpa.com), National Tenant Network (ntnonline.com), 123 Rent Inc. (therentersblacklist.com), and Tenancy Bureau Inc. (www.tenancybureau.us).
The letters state that the FTC has made no determination whether the companies have violated the law but encourages them to review their business practices to ensure that they comply with the FCRA. The FTC acknowledges the assistance of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in this matter.