Most people are no stranger to credit. Whether it's a credit card, a mortgage, or a car loan, you'll most likely take advantage of at least one line of credit at some point in your life. One factor that helps the companies that supply credit determine whether or not you qualify for specific lines of credit is your credit report.
Your credit report is supplied by a consumer reporting agency, such as a credit bureau. Consumers are protected from unfair credit reporting practices under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects consumers by promoting accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies.”1
Your rights under the FCRA include:
You must be informed of any information in your file that has been used against you. If anyone uses a credit report to deny you any type of application for credit, insurance, or employment they must inform you of what information was used and supply contact information for the credit agency that supplied it.
You have the right to access any and all information contained in your consumer reporting agency file. Your file must be provided for free if anyone has taken an adverse action against you, such as identity theft, denial of credit, or fraud.
You have the right to dispute information contained in your file. If any inaccurate information is discovered in your file you must be given the opportunity to report it and the credit bureau has an obligation to investigate your claim. Additionally, any information that they are unable to verify must be removed from your record within 30 days.
Outdated negative information must be removed from your record. Specifically, negative information that is over seven years old must be removed, with the exception of bankruptcies, which can remain on record for 10 years.
Your file can only be accessed by those with a legitimate need, such as creditors, landlords, insurers, or other businesses that supply forms of credit. Additionally, your employer may request your credit report, but only with your consent.
You may seek damages from violators. This is one of the most important rights given to you under the FCRA. If a consumer reporting agency violates any of the previously stated rights, you have the right to sue them and collect damages.
For more information about your rights under the FCRA, or if you need assistance in seeking damages from credit reporting agencies or debt collectors that are violating your rights, contact attorney Adam Alexander, who specializes in advocating for victims of unfair debt collection and reporting practice.