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WHAT IS THE FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT (FCRA)?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal statute passed in 1970. The statute drafts out the basic credit reporting rights of all consumers. In specific, FCRA is designed to protect consumers in regards to their privacy, fair treatment and accuracy of their credit files with consumer reporting agencies (CRA) including Credit Bureaus, and specialty reporting agencies such as employment history, check screening, medical records, and payday lending agencies.
Information reported by the creditor, debt collectors, and the credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) must all conform to the Fair Credit Reporting Act or they could be held liable for damages.
WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS UNDER FCRA?
Under the FCRA you have basic rights concerning any information consumer reporting agencies have collected on you. Some of the major rights under the FCRA include:
- If at any time information about you has been used against you by a third party that 3rd party must provide you with the information (Name of CRA, phone #, address, etc.) of the CRA they received your consumer information from. E.g. if you are applying for a mortgage and the bank rejects your loan after seeing your credit score, they must provide you with the necessary contact information of the credit reporting agency that they used.
- You have the right to know what information (including your credit score) is in your file with any CRA. if at any time you are interested to know what information a CRA has on you may request a file disclosure with that agency. Most of the time the CRA will charge you a standard fee, however, in some situations it will be free (in cases such as identity theft, to dispute inaccuracies or if any information has been used against as exemplified above). In addition to the case of credit reporting agencies, you can request your credit report for free once a year.
- If you have requested your file and find inaccuracies, you can file a dispute with that CRA. If you file a dispute the CRA the agency MUST investigate your claims. Any discrepancies they confirm MUST be removed or appropriately adjusted within 30 days.
- In addition to the false information in your file, CRAs MUST remove any outdated negative information about you. That means after 7 years any adverse information such as failed child support payments, delinquent accounts, or filed lawsuits/judgments MUST be removed from your file. The one exception is bankruptcy which will stay on your record for 10 years before it can be removed.
Any employer MUST seek out your expressed written consent before they can access your records from a CRA.
If your rights have been violated, you may be able to seek out damages from the infringing party.