The Fair Credit Reporting Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that regulates credit reporting agencies (Transunion, Equifax and Experian) and compels them to insure the information they gather and distribute is a fair and accurate. These credit bureaus or agencies gather and sell information about you to creditors, employers, landlords and other businesses. In addition, any creditor that furnishes any information to a credit bureau is subject to the FCRA. It is important to understand and be aware of your rights under the FCRA.
The FCRA is mainly concerned with the way credit reporting agencies use the information they receive regarding your credit history. The law is intended to protect consumers from misinformation being used against them. It offers very specific guidelines on the methods credit reporting agencies use to collect and verify information and outlines reasons that information can be released.
You have the right to know what is on your credit report. At your request, a credit bureau must provide you with the information in your file and a list of every entity that requested a copy of your credit report recently.
What Are Credit Reporting Agencies?
Credit reporting agencies are responsible for gathering, processing and archiving credit information on consumers. The agencies have information on more than 200 million Americans. They sell that information to help businesses make decisions about granting loans or credit. The agencies collect information on every consumer’s use of credit and their bill-paying habits. The data comes from information suppliers or any business that extends credit to customers. Information also is taken from public records like court judgments and bankruptcy filings.
What are your basic rights?
The FCRA provides a list of consumer rights regarding individuals’ credit history information. See below:
Access to Your Credit Report – The act requires credit reporting agencies to provide you with any information in your credit file upon request once a year (every 12 months). You have a right to a free copy of your credit report within 15 days of your request.
Protected Access – The act limits access to your file to those with a valid need. That would usually be banks, insurance companies, employers, landlords or others doing business that involves offering credit. You also have the right to know who has requested your credit report in the last year or, for employment-related requests, two years.
Accurate Reporting – If inaccurate information is discovered in your file, the consumer reporting agency must examine the disputed information, usually within 30 days. If the inaccurate information cannot be verified, the consumer reporting agency has a responsibility to remove it. If you are not able to clear up the matter, you are allowed to add a statement to your credit file explaining the situation.
Have Outdated Information Removed – Negative information must be removed from your file after seven years. Bankruptcy, however, may remain on record for 10 years, and criminal record information can remain indefinitely.
Maintain Medical Information Privacy – You are protected from having medical information in a consumer report, as creditors are prohibited from obtaining or using medical information when making a credit decision.
Limit Unsolicited Credit Offers – The law allows you to request to have your name and address removed from unsolicited prescreened offer lists for credit and insurance. To opt out of such correspondence, call (888) 5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688).
Receive Notification of Possible Negative Information – You have the right to be notified if any financial institution submits, or plans to submit, negative information to a credit reporting agency. This information may be included in a billing statement or a notice of default.
Seek Damages – You have the right to sue and seek damages in a state or federal court from anyone, such as a consumer reporting agency or a user of consumer reports, who violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Know When Your Credit Report Is Used Against You – If you are denied credit, insurance or employment because of your credit report, you can ask for the specific reason for the denial.
If you feel that your rights were violated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you should contact an attorney at Consumer Credit Protectors today. Contact our offices at (312) 909-6089 to speak with an attorney.