Epic Contributor
Posts: 24,782
Registered: ‎03-19-2007
Re: Dealership have permissible purpose for credit pull?
[ Edited ]

Absolutely NO permissible purpose!  The permissible purpose is always attached to a business transaction initiated by the consumer.

For a better understanding of when an auto dealer obtains permissible purpose, the FTC has specifically addressed the issue of automobile dealers accessing a consumer's credit report in a february 11, 1998 advisory opinion:


1. Section 604(a)(3)(F) permits CRAs to provide consumer reports to any party who has a "legitimate business need for the information in connection with a business transaction that is initiated by the consumer." You ask whether this provision allows a dealer to obtain a consumer report on a person who "comes to an automobile dealership and requests information" from a salesman about one or more automobiles. In our view it does not, because a request for general information about products and prices offered does not involve a business transaction initiated by the consumer.


More generally, you ask "when is the beginning of a business transaction" initiated by the consumer? In responding to this question, it is important to note that Section 604(a)(3)(F) limits this "business need" permissible purpose to transactions (i) that are "initiated" by the consumer and (ii) where the seller has a "legitimate business need" for the information. The staff's view is that an automobile dealer may obtain a report only in those circumstances in which the consumer clearly understands that he or she is initiating the purchase or lease of a vehicle and the seller has a legitimate business need for the consumer report information in order to complete the transaction.


For example, a consumer who asks a dealer questions about prices and financing is not necessarily indicating an intent to purchase or lease a vehicle from that particular dealer. Nor does the dealer have a "legitimate" business need for a consumer report in this situation. The consumer may simply be comparison shopping. In such a situation, the dealer must obtain written permission from the consumer before obtaining a consumer report. If the dealer would like to see a consumer's credit report before answering general questions about the availability of financing, this must be explained to the consumer and written permission must be obtained. In the same way, a request to "test drive" a vehicle does not indicate an intent to initiate the purchase or lease of the vehicle. Accordingly, if a consumer asks to test drive a vehicle, the dealer must obtain written permission from the consumer before obtaining a report.


Only in those circumstances where it is clear both to the consumer and to the dealer that the consumer is actually initiating the purchase or lease of a specific vehicle and, in addition, the dealer has a legitimate business need for consumer report information may the dealer obtain a report without written permission. In this regard, we note that obtaining information for negotiation purposes does not constitute a "legitimate" business need. The dealer must have a specific need for the information directly related to the completion of the transaction. For example, a dealer may obtain a report, if one is necessary, in order to arrange financing requested by the consumer.(1) The dealer may also obtain a report to check a consumer's creditworthiness when the consumer presents a personal check to pay for the vehicle. By contrast, a permissible purpose would not arise if a consumer intends to pay by cash.