Consumer Bill of Rights
The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) enforces credit laws that protect consumer’s rights to obtain, use, and maintain credit. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) was designed to help ensure credit reporting agencies furnish correct and complete information to businesses to use when evaluating a consumer’s application. Under the FCRA
You must be told if information in your file has been used against you.
Anyone who uses a credit report or another type of consumer report to deny your application for credit, insurance, or employment – or to take another adverse action against you – must tell you, and give you the name, address, and phone number of the CRA that provided the consumer report.
You have the right to know what is in your file.
You may request and obtain all the information about you in the files of a consumer reporting agency (your “file disclosure”).
You will be required to provide proper identification, which may include your Social Security number. In many cases, the disclosure will be free. You are entitled to a free file disclosure if:
• a person has taken adverse action against you because of information in your credit report;
• you are the victim of identity theft and place a fraud alert in your file;
• your file contains inaccurate information as a result of fraud;
• you are on public assistance;
• you are unemployed but expect to apply for employment within 60 days.
In addition, all consumers are entitled to one free disclosure every 12 months upon request from each nationwide credit bureau and from nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies. See www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore for additional information.
You have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information.
If you tell a CRA that your file contains inaccurate information the CRA must investigate the items (usually within 30 days) by presenting to its information source all relevant evidence you submit, unless your dispute is frivolous. The source must review your evidence and report it’s findings to the CRA. (The source also must advise national CRA’s – to which it has provided the data – of any error). The CRA must give you a written report of the investigation, and a copy of your report if the investigation results in any change. If the CRA’s investigation does not resolve the dispute, you may add a brief statement to your file. The CRA must normally included a summary of your statement in future reports. If an item is deleted or a dispute statement is filed, you may ask that anyone who has recently received your report be notified of the change.
Inaccurate information must be corrected or deleted.
A CRA must remove or correct inaccurate, incomplete, or unverified information from its files, usually within 30 days after you dispute it. However, the CRA is not required to remove accurate data from your file unless it is outdated (as described below) or cannot be verified. If your dispute results in any change to your report, the CRA cannot reinsert into your file a disputed item unless the information source verifies its accuracy and completeness. In addition, the CRA must give you a written notice telling you it has reinserted the item. The notice must include the name, address, and phone number of the information source.
You can dispute inaccurate items with the source of information.
If you tell anyone –such as a creditor who reports to a CRA – that you dispute an item, they may not then report the information to a CRA without including a notice of your dispute. In addition, once you’ve notified the source of the error in writing, it may not continue to report the information if it is, in fact, an error.
Outdated negative information may not be reported.
In most cases, a CRA 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 people with a valid need recognized by the FCRA – usually to consider an application with 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 CRA may not give our information about you to your employer, or prospective employer, without your written consent. A CRA may not report medical information about you to creditors, insurers, or employers without your permission.
You may choose to exclude your name from CRA lists for unsolicited credit and insurance offers. Creditors and insurers may use file information as the basis for sending you unsolicited offers of credit or insurance. Unsolicited “prescreened” offers for credit and insurance must include a toll-free phone number you can call if you choose to remove your name and address from the lists these offers are based on. You may opt out with the nationwide credit bureaus at 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688). If you call, you must be kept off the lists for two years. If you request, complete, and return the CRA form provided for this purpose, you must be taken off the lists indefinitely.
You may seek damages from violators.
If a CRA, or, in some cases, a user of consumer reports or a furnisher of information to a CRA violates the FCRA, you may be able to sue them in state or federal court.