Fair Credit Reporting Act: What You Need to Know

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is in place to protect you from fraudulent, inaccurate information that can damage your credit history. Outdated information, blatantly false information, and other things, such as debt collectors reporting old debt as new, are simply not allowed. Below is a brief overview of your rights as outlined by the FCRA.

1. You have the right to pull your credit report and obtain your credit score.

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Not only do you have the right to obtain a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once every 12 months, but you are also allowed to review any credit report that has been used in a decision to deny you an extension of credit. For example, if you are denied a credit card because of a negative item on your Equifax report, you may contact them within 60 calendar days to obtain a copy of the report for yourself. This is done completely free and they may not charge you for obtaining this information.

Fair Credit Reporting Act: What You Need to Know

2. You have the right to know when credit report information has been used against you.

Any denial of credit must come with a "letter of adverse action" within five days of the date of denial.

3. You have the right to dispute any false information and to have outdated and incorrect information removed from your report.

If you find information that is incorrect, you can write to the agency reporting it to dispute it and have it removed.

4. You have the right to limit access to your credit report.

Not everyone is allowed to view your credit report. For example, employers or potential employers must have your written permission to obtain your report, and the FCRA defines who is allowed to pull your information. Furthermore, you can "opt out" of getting pre-screened credit card offers based on published information by the credit agencies by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688).

5. You have the right to place alerts on your credit report for fraud, identity theft, or if you are on active duty in the military.

If you have been the victim of identity theft or fraud, you can have your credit put on alert or frozen. If you are in the military on active duty, you also have rights surrounding alerts on your file.

6. You have the right to bring lawsuits against those who have violated FCRA laws.

If a creditor or debt collection agency has failed to remove incorrect or outdated information about you after investigation, or if a company continues to report old debt as new, or fails to remove incorrect information, you may choose to bring a lawsuit for damages against them.

These are the basics to help guide you in knowing what rights you have as a consumer to investigate and challenge any false or misleading information about yourself. Remember, should you choose to seek damages from those who have violated any of your rights under FCRA, seek the advice and assistance of experienced fair credit lawyers.

Fair Credit Reporting Act: What You Need to Know

Sergei Lemberg, Esq. is the Principal of Lemberg & Associates, a law firm specializing in fair debt collection law, lemon law, and other consumer law.