Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act: A Brief History

The Fair Credit Reporting Act, (or FCRA for short) was first passed by Congress in 1970. It was then amended in 1996. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) set the rules on how credit reporting companies must interact with consumers. To quote the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the FCRA was:

“Designed to protect the privacy of consumer report information and to guarantee that the information supplied by consumer reporting agencies is as accurate as possible.”

You can take a look at the full document here.

To ensure this was accomplished, the FCRA established the following consumer rights:

  • Consumers must be told if information in their file is used against them.
  • Consumers must be able to find out what is in their file.
  • Consumers have the right to dispute inaccurate information and have inaccurate information corrected or deleted.
  • Outdated information (e.g., bankruptcies more than 10 years old) cannot be reported.
  • Consumer consent is required for reports provided to employers.
  • Consumers can request that their names be excluded from lists for unsolicited credit and insurance offers.

Summary of Your Rights

The FTC created an easy to use reference document entitled, “A summary of your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act”, which can be found here.

Below you will find a list of consumer rights as summarized by the FTC, as well as a chart to help consumers the Federal Reporting Agency according to the type of businesses.   States may enforce the FCRA, and many states have their own consumer reporting laws. In some cases, you may have more rights under state law. For more information, contact your state or local consumer protection agency or your state Attorney General.

Consumer Rights:

  • You must be told if information in your file has been used against you
  • You have the right to know what is in your file.
  • You have the right to ask for a credit score.
  • You have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information.
  • Consumer reporting agencies must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information.
  • Consumer reporting agencies may not report outdated negative information.
  • Access to your file is limited.
  • You must give your consent for reports to be provided to employers.
  • You may limit “prescreened” offers of credit and insurance you get based on information in your credit report.
  • You may seek damages from violators
  • Identity theft victims and active duty military personnel have additional rights. 
TYPE OF BUSINESS: CONTACT:
Consumer reporting agencies, creditors and others not listed below Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Response Center – FCRAWashington, DC 20580 1-877-382-4357
National banks, federal branches/agencies of foreign banks (word “National” or initials “N.A.” appear in or after bank’s name) Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Compliance Management,Mail Stop 6-6
Washington, DC 20219 800-613-6743
Federal Reserve System member banks (except national banks, and federal branches/agencies of foreign banks) Federal Reserve Consumer Help (FRCH)P O Box 1200
Minneapolis, MN 55480
Telephone: 888-851-1920
Website Address: www.federalreserveconsumerhelp.gov
Email Address: ConsumerHelp@FederalReserve.gov
Savings associations and federally chartered savings banks (word “Federal” or initials “F.S.B.” appear in federal institution’s name Office of Thrift SupervisionConsumer Complaints
Washington, DC 20552 800-842-6929
Federal credit unions (words “Federal Credit Union” appear in institution’s name) National Credit Union Administration1775 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314 703-519-4600
State-chartered banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve System Federal Deposit Insurance CorporationConsumer Response Center, 2345 Grand Avenue, Suite 100
Kansas City, Missouri 64108-2638 1-877-275-3342
Air, surface, or rail common carriers regulated by former Civil Aeronautics Board or Interstate Commerce Commission Department of Transportation, Office of Financial ManagementWashington, DC 20590 202-366-1306
Activities subject to the Packers and Stockyards Act, 1921 Department of AgricultureOffice of Deputy Administrator – GIPSA
Washington, DC 20250 202-720-7051

Benefits

  • Whether negative or positive, the FCRA dictates the information being reported must be accurate.
  • If determined to be inaccurate the credit agencies must remove the information from your file.
  • It also provides recourse to consumer’s experiencing difficulty getting credit agencies to comply with the FCRA, by allowing consumers to seek damages from violators.
  • There’s an expiration date on how long information can stay on your file.

Drawbacks

  • There is no standardized format for credit reports. With each of the 3 reporting agencies producing different documents and findings, results can be difficult to understand or decipher.
  • The growing practice of using consumer reports as employment screening devices, has aided in many consumers missing out on much needed job opportunities due to instances outside of their control.
  • The length of time potentially damaging information can remain on a consumers file. Some items carry a 7 year statute of limitations while others carry 10 years.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act at the very least provides more transparency to consumers and additional provisions to assist with the policing and monitoring of their credit reports. It also provides consumers an avenue for recourse against creditors found to be in violation.

The Fair Credit reporting act is also a very useful tool. Do your due diligence and become educated on your rights as a consumer. You can view the full Fair Credit Reporting act here, and the subsequent Summary of your Rights compiled by the FTC here. Also be sure to check with you State Attorney General’s Office to see if your state has its own laws on Fair Credit Reporting.

Resources:

Please use the following links to read up on the Fair Credit Reporting Act:

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a law that was developed to protect Consumers from the Credit Bureaus or Creditors posting inaccurate information hat could potentially hurt a person’s financial reputation.