Have you been turned down for a loan, a job, been the victim of identity theft, or had other problems with your credit report? The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal statute that gives you important rights and protections.
- If you suffer a violation of the FCRA, you may have the right to sue and recover substantial damages, as well as the correction of your credit report.
- If you apply for a job, the prospective employer cannot look at your credit report without your specific written consent, and must tell you if information in your file has been used against you.
- If you dispute inaccurate information in your credit report, the credit reporting agency (CRA) has a duty to promptly investigate with the business that “furnished” the information, make sure that the information is inaccurate, and correct or delete any inaccurate information.
- If you apply for a mortgage or other loan and are denied or offered a higher interest rate, the CRA must correct or delete inaccurate information so that you do not pay the higher price.
- If you have declared bankruptcy, your credit report cannot report discharged debts as still owing. It can report the debt as discharged, but must indicate a zero balance. Bankruptcies more than 10 years old cannot be reported.
- Your credit report cannot include old information, generally anything that is more than seven years old. Creditors cannot report it and CRAs cannot either.
- Companies can only access your report for permissible purposes, and CRAs have an obligation to screen such requests. For example, companies cannot access your credit report to offer you products and services other than credit.
- Debt collectors may violate the FCRA by improperly reporting debts on your credit report.
The credit reports that you get from the “Big 3” – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — are just one kind of credit report. There are also many other “specialty” companies that sell information about your medical records, banking history, rental history, and criminal convictions. This information is frequently inaccurate, because these companies are not well-regulated.
You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report and score on an annual basis.
If you have experienced problems related to any of the matters discussed above, or if you have experienced a problem similar to one you see described here, please contact us regarding your potential claims.