The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects the consumer and ensures credit reports and information coming from a reporting agency is accurate and fair. The three major consumer reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. These agencies typically offer a general credit score, which is a number assigned to gage your credit worthiness based on the information the credit agency has. There are also specialty consumer agencies that provide credit history for more specific areas such as employment, utility payments, homeowners, car, and renter’s insurance claims, and bank accounts. Reporting agencies are for-profit companies that sell your credit information to lenders, employers, and insurance companies. A typical credit report contains the following information:
- Name, birthdate, and social security number
- A list of vehicles and current value
- Mortgages and mortgage payments
- Current and past addresses, both home and employer
- Job title and salary
- Marital status, spouse’s name, and number of children
- Bank accounts and balance
- Payment history and credit limits on credit accounts
- Tax liens, bankruptcies, and court judgments
- A list of who has requested your credit report in the last two years
- Your credit score or credit rating
Under the FCRA the consumer has a some key rights. Those rights are outlined below.
The right to request your credit score
With any credit agency the consumer has the right to request a copy of their credit score, but the three major companies are required to provide that number at no charge, once every 12 months.
The right to know if the information has been used against you
If you have been denied credit, employment, or any other adverse action has been taken against you, the company or lender that denied you must provide you with the information they used to make the decision.
The right to know information in your file
You have the right to request a file disclosure. If you have had an adverse action against you, you are applying for public assistance, your identity has been stolen, or you are applying for jobs, you have the right obtain this disclosure for free.
The right to accurate information
If you identify incomplete or inaccurate information, you can send a dispute letter to demand the incorrect information be corrected, and the reporting agency has 30 days to make the information accurate.
If the reporting agency does not correct the false information with in the 30 days, you may hire an attorney experienced in this area to sue in state or federal court, to seek damages. Damages could include actual damages, statutory damages, and punitive damages. The damages that can be recovered depend if the violation was done by an individual or a reporting agency.