The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is designed to promote accuracy, fairness, and privacy of
the information in your files at each of the three national credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and
Trans Union (also known as repositories). In addition, there are many companies, usually called
approved resellers or Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) which purchase your credit information from
the repositories and resell that information to creditors, employers, and other businesses which
according to the FCRA must have a permissible purpose to view your personal credit information. The
FCRA gives you specific rights in dealing with the credit bureaus, and requires them to provide you
with a summary of these rights as listed below. You can find the complete text of the
FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq., at the Federal Trade Commission's web site
You must be informed if information in your file has been used, in part or in whole in a decision
to prevent granting credit, insurance, or employment. Anyone who uses this information must give you
the name, address, and phone number of the national credit bureau that maintains the information.
You can find out what is in your file. A credit bureau must give you all the information in your file,
including the names of companies who have requested it. However, you are not entitled to a "risk score"
or a "credit score" that is based on information in your file. There is no charge for the report if
your application was denied because of information contained in your credit file, and you should request
a copy of your report within 60 days of receiving the denial notice. You are also entitled to one free
report a year if you certify that (1) you are unemployed and plan to seek employment within 60 days,
(2) you are on welfare, or (3) your report is inaccurate due to fraud. Otherwise, a credit bureau may
charge a fee.
You can dispute inaccurate information with the credit bureaus. If you tell a credit bureau that your
file contains inaccurate information, the credit bureau must reinvestigate the items (usually within
30 days) unless your dispute is frivolous. The credit bureau must pass along to its source all relevant
information you provided. The credit bureau also must supply you with written results of the investigation
and a copy of your report, if it has changed. If an item is altered or deleted because you dispute it, the
credit bureau cannot place it back in your file unless the source of the information verifies its accuracy
and completeness, and the credit bureau provides you a written notice that includes the name, address and
phone number of the source.
Inaccurate information, once identified must be deleted. A credit bureau must remove inaccurate
information from its files, usually within 30 days after you dispute its accuracy. However, the credit
bureau is not required to remove data from your file that is accurate unless it is outdated or cannot be
You can dispute inaccurate items with the source of the information. If you tell a creditor that you
dispute an item, they may not then report the information to a credit bureau without including a notice
of your dispute. In addition, once you've notified the source of the error in writing, they may not
continue to report it if it is in fact an error.
Outdated information may not be reported. In most cases, a credit bureau may not report negative
information that is more than seven years old; ten years for bankruptcies.
Access to your file is limited. A CRA may provide information about you only to those who have a need
recognized by the FCRA -- usually to consider an application you have submitted to a creditor, insurer,
employer, landlord, or other business.
Your consent is required for reports that are provided to employers or that contain medical information.
A credit bureau may not report to your employer, or prospective employer, about you without your written
consent. A credit bureau may not divulge medical information about you without your permission.
You can stop a credit bureau from including you on lists for unsolicited credit and insurance offers.
Creditors and insurers may use file information as the basis for sending you unsolicited, pre-approved
offers of credit or insurance. Such offers must include a toll-free number for you to call and tell the
credit bureau if you want your name and address excluded from future lists or offers. If you notify the
credit bureau through the toll-free number, it must keep you off the lists for two years. If you request
and complete the credit bureau form provided for this purpose, you can have your name and address removed
indefinitely. The toll-free number to call to remove your name from future lists is 888-5-OptOut
You may seek damages from violators. You may sue a credit bureau or other party in state or federal
court for violations of the FCRA. If you win, the defendant may have to pay damages and reimburse you
for attorney fees. If you lose and the court specifically finds you sued in bad faith, you or your
attorney may have to pay the defendant's fees.
You can click here to view the complete Fair Credit Reporting Act.
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