Court Forbids Sale of Mailing Lists by Credit Bureau

18 April 2001

In a unanimous, three-judge ruling, the US Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia yesterday ordered credit bureau Trans Union to stop selling mailing lists compiled from data contained in credit reports.

The decision marks the latest development in the long-running battle between Trans Union and the Federal Trade Commission. This stems from a grey area within the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which limits divulgence of consumers’ personal information collated by credit bureaux. The FTC argued that the Act forbade the compilation of mailing lists from credit reports, a practice which most credit bureaux subsequently halted. However, Trans Union contended that the Act applied only to information about specific personal transactions, leaving other details available for inclusion in mailing lists to be sold to direct marketers.

Yesterday’s ruling, the second occasion on which the Court of Appeals has heard the case, forbids the sale of any data from credit reports, apart from “permissible purposes” such as credit checks.

Trans Union commented that it was reviewing the ruling.

News source: Advertising Age - Daily Deadline