The Fair Credit Reporting Act contains provisions on SSA’s use of consumer credit
reports. Since 1995, SSA has been using credit reports in overpayment collection efforts
and referral of cases to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Credit reports are obtained only for those individuals who owe program debts to the
agency and are used as documentation in cases of referrals to DOJ for collection via
civil suit. The reports are accessed through an online website in the Debt Management
Sections (DMS) of each of the Program Service Centers (PSC). Each employee in the
DMS has been assigned pins/passwords to access the reports.
The administrator in each PSC has access to reports used as audit trails to monitor
the use of the consumer credit reports to ensure that these reports are being obtained
for legitimate business needs. Since the consumer credit reports contain highly sensitive
information, extreme care should be taken to safeguard the reports at all times.
Note: Consumer credit reports should only be accessed when there is a legitimate business
need for obtaining a consumer’s credit report, i.e., referral to DOJ. The Federal
Fair Credit Reporting Act imposes criminal penalties, including a fine, imprisonment
or both, for willfully obtaining consumer reports under false pretenses