United States District Court Holds Credit Bureaus Can Be Required to Provide Non-English Credit Reports

The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey has held, in Consumer Data Industry Association v. Platkin, that states can require credit bureaus to provide credit reports in non-English languages without violating the U.S. Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. (the “FCRA”).

New Jersey amended its laws in 2019, adding language disclosure provisions requiring disclosures of credit files to be provided in languages other than English. The Consumer Data Industry Association, whose members include the three largest consumer reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, filed suit arguing that forcing credit bureaus to provide reports to consumers in languages other than English was barred by the FCRA and the U.S. Constitution’s free speech protections.

The District Court disagreed, finding that “Requiring the translation of credit file disclosures serves the interest of preventing consumer confusion and deception and curbing barriers to financial literacy.” The Court did strike down one portion of the amendments, which required reports in at least ten languages other than Spanish and English, finding it could be deemed “unnecessarily burdensome” and that the record did not support such a high floor for required translations. The remainder of the law, however, was found to be valid and enforceable, and New Jersey may continue to require the bureaus to provide translated credit reports.

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