Credit information is of the utmost importance in our society. Inaccurate information in your credit report can lower your credit score, affect your ability to obtain additional credit, and impact various aspects of life. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that governs how financial matters, including debt collections, can be included in your credit report. Our consumer attorneys at Cogburn Law in Las Vegas are committed to ensuring that your creditors and credit reporting agencies comply with the terms of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
The FCRA was enacted to promote accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in credit reporting agency files. Following is a summary of the rights of consumers under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Right to Know When Information Has Been Used Against You
Anyone who uses a credit report or consumer report to deny your application for credit, employment, or insurance, or to take any action against you, must tell you so and give you the name, address, and telephone number of the credit or consumer reporting agency that provided the information.
Right to Know What Is in Your File
You may request and obtain full file disclosure (all the information about you in a consumer reporting agency file) if you provide proper identification. You are entitled to file disclosure free of charge if:
- Someone has taken adverse action against you because of your credit report information
- You have been a victim of identity theft and have placed a fraud alert in your file
- Inaccurate information is contained in your file because of fraud
- You are unemployed but expect to apply for employment within 60 days
- You are on public assistance
All consumers are entitled to one free file disclosure from each of the nationwide credit bureaus and nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies upon request once every 12 months.
Right to Ask for Your Credit Score
You may request your credit score (numerical creditworthiness rating) from consumer reporting agencies. There is usually a charge, except in the case of some mortgage transactions.
Right to Dispute Inaccurate or Incomplete Information
Unless your dispute is frivolous, credit reporting agencies must investigate if you identify incomplete or inaccurate information in your file. They must also delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information.
Right to Limit Prescreened offers of Credit and Insurance Based on Your Credit Report
You may opt-out with nationwide credit bureaus by calling a toll-free number. Unsolicited prescreened offers are required to include a toll-free number you can call to have your name and address removed from the list.
Credit Reporting Agency Requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
Credit and consumer reporting agencies may not report negative information about you that is more than seven years old or a bankruptcy that is more than 10 years old. They may provide information about you only to those with a valid need for access, such as a potential creditor, employer, insurer, or landlord.
A credit reporting agency is not allowed to provide information about you to an employer or potential employer without your written consent, except in the trucking industry. If any consumer reporting agency, a user of consumer reports, or provider of information to a consumer reporting agency violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you may be eligible to sue for damages in state or federal court.
Contact An FCRA Lawyer In Las Vegas
Contact our experienced team of Credit Repair Lawyers at Cogburn Law today for a free case consultation about violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You have rights – we can help. Call now at (702) 748-7777.
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Frequently Asked Questions About The FCRA
What Is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law regulating credit reporting agencies and makes them insure the information they gather and share is a fair and accurate representation of a consumer’s credit history.
This law’s intention is to protect consumers from credit reporting agencies using misinformation against them. It has very specific guidelines on how these agencies can collect and verify the information.
What Are Credit Reporting Agencies?
Credit Report Agencies (CRA) are the ones responsible for gathering, processing, and storing consumers’ credit information. They have information on more than 200 million people in the United States. CRAs sell that information to help businesses make decisions about giving loans or credit.
These agencies collect information on how every consumer uses their credit and how they pay their bills. With all this information, CRAs set their own algorithms to come up with a score that can predict a consumer’s creditworthiness. If you’re looking to get a loan, CRAs don’t make that decision. That decision is made by banks, credit unions, or card companies. CRAs only share your information to set the interest rate and conditions for a loan.
What Are My Basic FCRA Consumer Rights?
- Access to your credit report – CRAs are required to provide you with any information in your credit file if you request it once a year.
- Protected access – FCRA limits access to your file to those with a valid need. Be it banks, insurance companies, employers, or landlords. You have the right to know who has requested your information as well.
- Accurate reporting – If there is incorrect information in your file the CRA must examine the information within 30 days. If this information in dispute cannot be verified, the CRA has to remove it.
- Have outdated information removed – if there is any negative information in your file it must be removed after seven years? But, bankruptcy can remain in your record for 10 years. And, criminal records can remain indefinitely.
- Maintain medical information privacy – this Act protects you from having medical information in a consumer report. Creditors are actually prohibited from using medical information when making a credit decision.
- Limit unsolicited credit offers – this Act allows you to ask for your name and address be removed from unsolicited prescreened offer lists for credit and insurance.
- Protect your personal account numbers – businesses cannot publish full credit card numbers on receipts. This act allows you to also protect your Social Security number.
- Receive notification of possible negative information – you are entitled to receive notification of any financial institution submitting negative information to a CRA.
- Seek damages – You can sue and seek damages in a state or federal court from a CRA or a user of consumer reports that violates the FCRA.
- Know when your credit report is used against you – if your credit, insurance or employment is denied because of your credit report, you can ask why.
- Know your credit scores – you can request your credit score with each credit bureau. They are each unique.
When Are Disclosures Permitted Under The FCRA?
If you give a business or person (employer, for example) authorization or they are authorized for a legitimate reason under the FCRA, they can receive your credit report.
Legitimate reasons include information to satisfy an application for credit, when it is in connection to child support evaluation or court order, to help an employer determine whether they should extend a job offer or if a state or federal agency requests.
How Can an Employer Use Your Credit Information?
An employer can request a copy of your credit history to determine whether to hire or terminate you as part of a background check. They absolutely must get your permission first to run your credit report.
If your employer sees that the report is used negatively against you, he or she should give you a copy of the report and let you know your right to dispute it and share the contact information of the company that made the report. It is very important that you know that your employer cannot use your credit report to discriminate against you, nor to deny employment based on your race, sex, religion, and ethnicity.
What Is A FCRA Violation?
Common violations of the FCRA include:
- Old information is shown as new information. An example is a failure to update reports after completion of the bankruptcy. CRAs might report old debts as new, and report a financial account as active when the consumer closed it.
- Creditors giving CRAs inaccurate financial information about you.
- CRAs mistaking someone’s information for another because of a similar last name or social security number.
- CRAs fail to follow the guidelines when handling disputes.
- Getting your report for an impermissible purpose. For example, looking at a credit report to determine if you have assents even before filing certain kinds of lawsuits.
- Failing to notify you about your credit report in violation of the FCRA.
- CRAs providing information to people or businesses that are not authorized.
What Are The Penalties For Violating the FCRA?
An individual can sue a CRA for damages for the willful or negligent disclosure of credit information. That individual can sue for damages up to $1,000, attorney’s fees and reasonable costs, and punitive damages if the court allows it.
What is a Credit Score?
It is a three-digit number that is related to how likely a person is able to repay their debt. It is based on how often a person makes payments on time and how many of their accounts are in good standing.
How Can I Improve My Credit Score?
There are a few things you can do to make sure your credit score is high like paying your bills and loan payments on time, minimize your debt, don’t have a balance on your credit cards, and don’t have too many open credit lines. It is definitely important to monitor your credit.