The Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA for short, is a federal law that governs how your credit information can be collected, used, and given out. It was passed in 1970 to ensure that the information retained by the credit reporting agencies was fair, accurate, and retained under secure and private conditions.
Under the FCRA, you have the right to access the information in your credit file and dispute any inaccuracies. If, for example, you pull your credit report and see a debt that you don’t recognize or that you know you already paid, you may file a dispute that compels the consumer reporting agency to confirm that the debt is valid.
Consumer Reporting Agencies and the FCRA
Consumer reporting agencies collect consumer credit information and sell it to third parties. The best-known agencies are Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. The FCRA requires these companies to:
- Provide you with a copy of your credit file upon request. You are entitled to one free report a year, but additional free reports are available under special circumstances, such as you becoming a victim of identity theft or experiencing an adverse event (e.g. denied credit application or high interest rate) because of information contained in your report.
- Provide you with your credit score upon request.
- Allow you to opt out of prescreened credit offers.
- Investigate all disputes unless you fail to provide sufficient information or try to dispute your entire report.
- Correct or remove inaccurate information within 30 days of receiving your dispute.
- Delete negative information that is over seven to 10 years old, depending on the information type.
- Make your credit file available only to companies that have a valid reason for viewing it, such as mortgage lenders and credit card issuers.
- Make your credit report available to employers only with your written permission.
Information Furnishers and the FCRA
Businesses that provide information to the credit bureaus also have obligations under the FCRA. They may not report inaccurate information and must provide prompt corrections if they discover that they have done so in error. Other responsibilities include:
- Advising you of any negative information within 30 days (e.g. an account sent to collections).
- Responding to identity theft notices and refraining from reporting accounts that you have reported as the result of identity theft.
- Letting the credit bureaus know when you voluntarily close an account.
If you discover inaccurate credit report information and dispute it with the furnisher directly, they must report your dispute to the credit bureau and refrain from reporting the information until an investigation has been carried out.
Information Requesters and the FCRA
If a company requests to see your credit report for a legitimate purpose, such as granting credit, and your application is declined because of information in the report, the FCRA requires them to advise you of the fact and provide you with the name and contact information for the credit bureau that issued the report.
The FCRA provides an added degree of consumer protection by allowing you to seek damages when a business violates your rights. For assistance in this regard or to seek confirmation that you have a case, contact the Law Offices of B. David Sisson for a no-obligation consultation. Attorney Sisson will ensure that your rights are protected and help you fight for the damages you deserve.