The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a law that regulates how businesses and credit reporting agencies can use your credit history. Unfortunately, violations of the FCRA are far more common than you might have thought.
Many consumers find themselves dealing with surprising credit issues and FCRA violations when they fail to understand and advocate for their rights. An FCRA lawyer at Sharmin & Sharmin P.A. could help you stand up for your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
What Is the Purpose of the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act was passed in 1970. It was designed so credit reporting agencies, including Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, could gather and sell information about a specific individual’s credit history.
The FCRA is supposed to protect consumers from inaccurate or misinformation used against them by businesses and credit bureaus. There are specific guidelines and responsibilities in place that these businesses and credit reporting agencies must adhere to as they distribute and collect your most personal information.
How Does the FCRA Help Consumers?
The FCRA helps consumers in a variety of ways. Most importantly, it regulates how the information in your credit report can be used and accessed by businesses and credit reporting bureaus. The Fair Credit Reporting Act details each individual’s specific rights regarding their information, use, and access. These rights are as follows:
The right to ask for your credit score
Since your credit score determines your creditworthiness, you have a right to know your score from the credit reporting agencies that create and distribute them. You should be able to access one free copy of your credit report for each year from the three major credit bureaus.
The right to be informed of information in your credit report was used against you
When you are applying for a job, insurance, or a line of credit, and the provider uses your consumer or a credit report to make a decision about your case, you have the right to be informed when your credit report is used against you.
The right for unverifiable, inaccurate, or incomplete information to be corrected or removed from your credit report
When reviewing your credit report, you have the right to get any incomplete, unverifiable, or inaccurate information corrected or removed from your report within forty-five days. This can be done by initiating a dispute letter via certified mail to each of the three major credit reporting agencies.
The right to damages when your rights are violated
Your credit score and report are used in several ways, and when businesses or credit bureaus violate your rights under the FCRA, you may have the right to financial compensation when you pursue legal action against them at both the state and federal levels.
The right to place a security freeze on your credit
Consumers have the right to place a security freeze on their credit report under the FCRA. Here, nothing can be approved in your name without your explicit consent. This means anyone applying for lines of credit, mortgages, loans, or even opening a bank account under your Social Security number will be unable to do so unless your permission has been given.
When you are attempting to access a loan, mortgage, or line of credit when there is a security freeze on your account, you can provide the lender and question with a one time pin to access your credit report, or you can contact the credit reporting bureaus to lift the freeze temporarily.
The right to limit access to your credit report
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have the right to limit who has access to your credit report. Credit reporting agencies are only allowed to give out your information to individuals with a “valid need.” This might include creditors, potential employers, landlords, insurance companies, and other businesses who are reviewing your creditworthiness.
Unless you have given your written consent for these individuals and businesses to access your information, the credit reporting agencies are prohibited from providing that access.
You have the right to dispute misinformation, incomplete information, and outdated negative information on your credit report
When there is incomplete, outdated negative information or misinformation on your credit report, it could cost you considerably more than someone who does not have errors on their report. You have the right to dispute inaccurate information in your file and for these items to be withheld or removed from reporting.
For example, if your credit report shows that a creditor is suing you, but you have already paid the debt in question, and your credit report is not reflecting this payment, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau to get this information updated.
Negative information on your credit report should be removed after seven years or ten years in bankruptcy cases.
When disputing incomplete or inaccurate information on a credit report, you can expect the credit bureau to attempt to contact the creditor in question to confirm whether the information is inaccurate or incomplete. In cases where it is not, or the credit bureaus cannot contact the creditor, the credit reporting agency will either remove it or correct it, depending on the details of your case.
The right to place a fraud alert on your credit report
You have the right to put a fraud or extended fraud alert on your credit report at no cost. This is an alternative to a security freeze that puts your account on alert for one year.
It requires businesses to verify their identity before authorizing new lines of credit, mortgages, bank accounts, insurance policies, and more. In some cases, extended fraud alerts can last as long as seven years.
Get Help From a Fair Credit Reporting Act Lawyer
When you take your credit seriously, and a business or other credit reporting agency has violated your rights, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
Explore your legal options further when you contact a reputable Fair Credit Reporting Act lawyer at Sharmin & Sharmin P.A. Schedule your initial consultation when you complete our convenient contact form or give our office a call at 1-844-Sharmin.
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