The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives specific rights to consumers whose credit information is collected by consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) and distributed to others. State laws may provide additional rights, but the following is an outline of the basic federal protections:
- Anyone who uses information from a CRA against you must tell you so and give you information on how to contact the CRA.
- Upon your request, a CRA must give you the information in your file and a list of who has requested it recently. The most the CRA can charge for this is $8 and under some circumstances the report is free.
- You can dispute the accuracy of information held by the CRA by following a detailed procedure. The CRA will provide a written report of its investigation. Inaccurate or unverified information must be removed from the CRA’s files or be corrected, usually within 30 days after it is disputed. If you notify the source of a CRA’s information, such as a creditor, that you dispute such information, the source may not report the information to the CRA unless it also gives the CRA notice of the dispute.
- Generally, negative credit information that is more than seven years old may not be reported by a CRA. The time period is extended to 10 years for bankruptcies.
- Not just anyone can have access to your credit information. A CRA can give information only to those who need it for reasons stated in the law. Usually, this means businesses to whom you have applied for credit, insurance, employment, or housing.
- Your consent is required before a CRA can give out any kind of credit information about you to your employer or to a prospective employer. If it has medical information about you, the CRA also needs your permission to provide that information to creditors, insurers, or employers.
- If a CRA, a user of the CRA data, or in some cases a provider of the CRA data violates the federal law’s requirements, you may sue the individual or entity in state or federal court.
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