Fair Credit Reporting Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is designed to promote accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of every “consumer reporting agency” (CRA). Most CRAs are credit bureaus that gather and sell information about you (such as if you pay your bills on time or have filed for bankruptcy) to creditors, employers, landlords and other businesses. The FCRA gives you specific rights. You can find the complete text of the FCRA 15 U.S.C. 1681.1681u at the Federal Trade Commission’s web site (www.ftc.gov).
Summary of your rights:
- You must be told if information in your file is being used against you. This is true whether you have applied for credit, insurance, or employment. You must be provided with the name, address, and phone number of the CRA that provided the consumer report.
- You can dispute inaccurate information with the CRA. The CRA must investigate your claim and report back to you within 30 days. If the CRA’s investigation does not resolve your dispute, you may add a brief statement to your file.
- Incorrect information must be corrected or deleted. The CRA must remove or correct the information within 30 days of the dispute. Accurate information, however, does not have to be deleted unless it is outdated or cannot be verified.
- You can dispute the incorrect information with the source who is reporting it. The source cannot report to a CRA unless they also include your dispute.
- Outdated information may not be reported. Negative information more than seven years old, ten years for bankruptcy, may not be reported by the CRAs.
- Not just anyone can view your file. CRAs may provide information only to people with a need that is considered acceptable by the FCRA. Generally, this means credit and insurance grantors, employers, landlords, or other businesses that have proven a need. The general public does not have access to your information.
- Your consent is required for reports that are provided to employers or that may contain medical information.
- You can choose to opt-out from lists that the CRAs may provide that result in unsolicited credit or insurance offers.
- You may seek damages from violators. If a CRA or the provider of information to the CRA violates the FCRA, you may sue them in state or federal court.