The Federal Trade Commission has ordered the Trans Union Corporation to stop selling consumer reports in the form of target marketing lists to marketers who lack an authorized purpose for receiving them under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). In a unanimous opinion authored by Commissioner Mozelle W. Thompson, the FTC determined that “Trans Union’s target marketing lists are . . . consumer reports under the FCRA” and concluded that Trans Union is violating the FCRA by selling this information to target marketers who lack one of the “permissible purposes” enumerated under the Act. The Commission’s decision applies to a number of Trans Union’s target marketing list products including its Master File / Selects products, its modeled products and its TransLink / reverse append products. Trans Union is based in Chicago, Illinois, and is one of the three national credit bureaus, or consumer reporting agencies, in the United States. It currently handles data on approximately 160 million consumers. As a consumer reporting agency, Trans Union receives detailed credit information about millions of American consumers from numerous credit grantors including banks, mortgage companies, credit unions, auto dealers and others. Trans Union compiles this information into consumer reports and sells the reports to credit grantors nationwide.
Defendant Trans Union is one of three major consumer reporting agencies in the United States. Its core business is assembling and evaluating consumer credit information, including credit and payment patterns on consumers for the purpose of selling consumer reports to third parties. Typical buyers of such information are firms considering extending credit to a particular consumer. The information provided by Trans Union is used to determine if the consumer is a good credit risk. Trans Union maintains a computer data base called “CRONUS,” that contains consumer credit information it uses to generate credit reports. The data base includes the credit activity of every credit-active individual in the United States. Trans Union receives the information from credit grantors such as banks, mortgage companies, credit unions, auto dealers and collection agencies. Trans Union also receives information on student loans and child support.
A Vice-President of TransUnion has demanded that we remove two documents from this site that he says are copyrighted. Gary S. Friedlander, Vice President & Division General Counsel for TransUnion LLC, says that our posting of the documents constitutes “intentional infringement” and he threatens that “Trans Union can file a lawsuit against you seeking among other things: preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, money damages, and attorneys’ fees”. Mr. Friedlander also demands that we “immediately destroy any and all copies of Trans Union copyrighted material in your possession and/or control”.
The TU40 User Guide describes the fixed-format inquiry (FFI) and fixed-format response (FFR) that are used in TU Release 4.0 (TU40). The intended audience for this guide consists of the programmers who are moving from an earlier format or who maintain systems that currently use TU40 to conduct electronic transactions with the TransUnion consumer database.
Trans Union Credit Report Training Guide, July 2000.