The Fair Credit Reporting Act
While figuring out your finances and determining your credit status you
may have come across some details of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The
FCRA is a federal law that gives certain rights to consumers when it comes
to their credit reports and scores. The following will list and explain
some of your rights.
The FCRA allows you to a copy of your credit report. You can receive one free report from each reporting agency each year. You can go online and request your yearly free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com, this is the official website to get your free credit report. This does not include your score.
There are many sites that claim free reports but they will still charge you or sign you up for a different program that charges you monthly.
You have 60 days to request a free credit report if you are denied credit for any reason. You may also request a credit report if you are unemployed and will be looking for work within 60 days.
At anytime you may receive a complete copy of your credit report that includes your score if you are willing to pay a reasonable fee.
Under the FCRA you have the right to dispute any inaccuracies that you find on your credit report. Credit reporting agencies are obligated to investigate any inaccurate claim made by you with accompanying evidence. You must provide proof of the mistakes and allow the reporting agency to review your file. They then must provide you with their written results of the review within 30 days of the dispute. The report will include any changes to your report as well as a copy of your credit report. If you are still not satisfied with the results you can request that the particular item has been disputed and then it will be included in your credit report.
If the information is found to be indeed incorrect then the credit reporting agency must correct or delete the mistake from your file within 30 days after you dispute the item. If a credit agency cannot verify the disputed item after the 30 days then they must delete the information. If it is verified later however, they may reinstate the information if they give you written notice that they have done so.
You can request who does and does not have access to your credit report. An employer needs your written consent before they can obtain information from your credit report.
You can also request that your name be removed from creditor’s lists. This will prevent you from receiving countless amounts of credit card offers. Any unsolicited offers you receive must provide detailed instructions on how to contact them to remove you from their mailing list. You can also call the national credit bureaus toll-free number, 1-888-567-8688, to be removed from all pre-approved credit card offers. You can also go online or write to each credit bureau.
If you feel that any of your rights under the FCRA have been violated then you have the right to go to state or federal court. To find more details or report a complaint you will want to contact the FTC or your state’s attorney general. Anytime you choose to proceed to court you are taking a risk that can cost you a lot of money. It is important to get as much information as you can and consult with a professional to review the strength of your case.
Sometimes as consumers we may feel like our backs are against the wall, but you should take faith that there are laws out there protecting us and giving us financial rights. It is important to familiarize yourself with them so you may avoid being taken advantage of and are able to handle any discrepancies that you may encounter.
This article is just an introduction and you may want to further investigate other rights you have as an American consumer.
www.fair-credit-reporting.com - More information and links about the FCRA.
www.optoutprescreen.com - Website where you can remove your information from unsolicited credit offers.
Optout toll-free # - 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688)
www.annualcreditreport.com - The official website to request your free credit report.
www.ftc.org - Provides detailed information on FCRA and legal resources to assist you.
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