The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects you against the misuse and inaccurate reporting of your financial information on your credit report.
Having accurate information regarding your payment history and debts owed is essential to your ability to obtain credit when you need it. Violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act can result in your being denied a loan or being charged a higher interest rate. It can even affect your job opportunities. So it is important that you understand your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act so you can take action if those consumer rights are violated.
What Rights Do You Have Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act prohibits information that is false or misleading and limits who can obtain information regarding your credit history. Some of the protections that you have under this law include:
- Free credit report. You are entitled to obtain a free copy of your credit report once each year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. These can be requested online at www.annualcreditreport.com, on the phone, or by mail.
- Obsolete information. The credit reporting agency cannot continue to report debts on your credit report that are obsolete. Bankruptcies are considered obsolete after 10 years, and other debts cannot be reported where the default occurred more than seven years ago.
- Creditor use of information. Anyone who uses information contained in your credit report to deny you credit, a loan, or employment must inform you of this and provide you with the name, address, and telephone number of the credit reporting agency used. The denial could entitle you to a free credit report.
- Credit score. You have a right to receive your credit score. However, the credit reporting agency could charge you a fee for this information.
- Inaccurate information. You have the right to send the credit reporting agency a letter disputing inaccurate disclosures on your credit report and ask that they conduct an investigation. Incorrect information could include obsolete debts, debts that are not yours, or false information regarding your payment history to a creditor.
- Correction of inaccurate information. Once the credit reporting agency receives a letter from you or your attorney disputing an item on your credit report, the agency must investigate your dispute and remove any incorrect information within 30 days. However, the credit reporting agency is allowed to keep accurate information on your credit report. If the information remains on your report, you would have the right to ask that a statement you prepare explaining your dispute be attached to your report.
- Limitations on access. Only people and businesses with a valid reason—such as determining your creditworthiness—have a right to review information on your credit report. Your employer can only be provided with a copy of your credit report if you consent.
- Right to sue. If the credit reporting agency or someone requesting your credit report violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you may be entitled to actual or statutory damages, punitive damages if the violation is serious enough, and reasonable attorney fees.
- Identity theft. If you are the victim of identity theft, you may have additional protections under federal and Massachusetts laws.
Does your credit report contain false information? Let Brine Consumer Law help you assert your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Because the credit reporting agency or creditor may be required to pay your attorney fees, you may not need to pay any out-of-pocket costs for representation from Brine Consumer Law. We offer free phone consultations, so call today to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation and your legal options.