§ 1.916 - Disclosure of debt information to consumer reporting agencies (CRA).
(a) The Department of Veterans Affairs may disclose all information determined to be necessary, including the name, address, Department of Veterans Affairs file number, Social Security number, and date of birth, to consumer reporting agencies for the purpose of -
(1) Obtaining the location of an individual indebted to the United States as a result of participation in any benefits program administered by VA or indebted in any other manner to VA;
(2) Obtaining a consumer report in order to assess an individuals ability to repay a debt when such individual has failed to respond to the Department's demand for repayment or when such individual has notified the Department that he/she will not repay the indebtedness; or
(3) Obtaining the location of an individual in order to conduct program evaluation studies as required by 38 U.S.C. 527 or any other law.
(b) Information disclosed by the Department of Veterans Affairs under paragraph (a) of this section to consumer reporting agencies shall neither expressly nor implicitly indicate that an individual is indebted to the United States nor shall such information be recorded by consumer reporting agencies in a manner that reflects adversely upon the individual. Prior to disclosing this information, the Department of Veterans Affairs shall ascertain that consumer reporting agencies with which it contracts are able to comply with this requirement. The Department of Veterans Affairs shall also make reasonable efforts to insure compliance by its contractor with this requirement.
(c) Subject to the conditions set forth in paragraph (d) of this section, information concerning individuals may be disclosed to consumer reporting agencies for inclusion in consumer reports pertaining to the individual, or for the purpose of locating the individual. Disclosure of the fact of indebtedness will be made if the individual fails to respond in accordance with written demands for repayment, or refuses to repay a debt to the United States. In making any disclosure under this section, VA will provide consumer reporting agencies with sufficient information to identify the individual, including the individual's name, address, if known, date of birth, VA file number, and Social Security number.
(d)(1) Prior to releasing information under paragraph (c) of this section, the Department of Veterans Affairs will send a notice to the individual. This notice will inform the individual that -
(i) The Department of Veterans Affairs has determined that he or she is indebted to the Department of Veterans Affairs;
(ii) The debt is presently delinquent; and
(iii) The fact of delinquency may be reported to consumer reporting agencies after 30 days have elapsed from the date of the notice.
(2)(i) In accordance with § 1.911 and § 1.911a, VA shall notify each individual of the right to dispute the existence and amount of the debt and to request a waiver of the debt, if applicable.
(ii) If the Department of Veterans Affairs has not previously notified the individual of the rights described in paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section, the Department of Veterans Affairs will include this information in the notice described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section. The individual shall be afforded a minimum of 30 days from the date of the notice to respond to it before information is reported to consumer reporting agencies.
(3) The Department of Veterans Affairs will defer reporting information to a consumer reporting agency if the individual disputes the existence or amount of any debt or requests waiver of the debt within the time limits set forth in paragraph (d)(2)(ii) of this section. The Department of Veterans Affairs will review any dispute and notify the individual of its findings. If the original decision is determined to be correct, or if the individual's request for waiver is denied, the Department of Veterans Affairs may report the fact of delinquency to a consumer reporting agency. However, the individual shall be afforded 30 days from date of the notice of the agency's determination to repay the debt.
(4) Nothing in this section affects an individual's right to appeal an agency decision to the Board of Veterans Appeals. However, information concerning the debt may be disclosed while an appeal is pending before the Board of Veterans Appeals.
(5) Upon request, the Department of Veterans Affairs will notify an individual -
(i) Whether information concerning a debt has been reported to consumer reporting agencies;
(ii) Of the name and address of each consumer reporting agency to which information has been released; and
(iii) Of the specific information released.
(e) Subsequent to disclosure of information to consumer reporting agencies as described in paragraph (c) of this section, the Department of Veterans Affairs shall:
(1) Notify on a monthly basis each consumer reporting agency concerned of any substantial change in the status or amount of indebtedness.
(2) Promptly verify any and all information disclosed if so requested by the consumer reporting agency concerned.
(f) In the absence of a different rule prescribed by statute, contract, or other regulation, an indebtedness is considered delinquent if not paid by the individual by the date due specified in the notice of indebtedness, unless satisfactory arrangements are made by such date.
(g) Notification shall be considered sufficient when effected by ordinary mail, addressed to the last known address, and such notice is not returned as undeliverable by postal authorities.
(h) The Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a) does not apply to any contract between the Department of Veterans Affairs and a consumer reporting agency, nor does it apply to a consumer reporting agency and its employees. See 38 U.S.C. 5701(i). This paragraph does not relieve the Department of Veterans Affairs of its obligation to comply with the Privacy Act.
(i) The term “consumer reporting agency” means any person or agency which, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties or to other consumer reporting agencies. The term “consumer reporting agency” shall also mean any person or agency which serves as a marketing agent under arrangements enabling third parties to obtain such information from consumer reporting agencies, or which obtain such information for the purpose of furnishing it to consumer reporting agencies.