The Fair Credit Reporting Act & Your Rights

It’s impossible to do just about anything major when it comes to finances without a good credit report. However, there are many ways your credit report can be damaged, and repairing damage can take months or even years. So what happens when damage occurs because of a mistake? Well, thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have rights as a consumer you can use to hold those who unjustly damage your report accountable and have the damage reversed.

To help you better understand these rights and exercise your right to enforce them when necessary, here is a brief list of your rights as a consumer under the FCRA.

  • You must be told if information in your file has been used against you. If you apply for a loan or line of credit and your application is denied or rejected based on information obtained by running your credit report, the party who denied you must inform you of what they found in your report and used against you. They must also give you the information for the agency that reported this issue, and give you the contact information so you can resolve the problem.
  • You have the right to know what’s in your credit report. A consumer reporting agency may not deny you the ability to see the information they have on you in full. You will need to properly identify yourself (which means you may need to give your social security number in order to ensure you receive the right report). However, if you request your report from an agency, they must give it to you in full.
  • You may be entitled to a free report from a credit reporting agency. Sometimes agencies require a small fee to obtain your credit report. If so, you may be entitled to have that fee waived if you meet one of these special circumstances: someone has taken adverse action against you because of your credit report, you’re the victim of identity fraud, you are on public assistance, your file contains inaccurate information, or you are unemployed but expect to apply for employment within 60 days.
  • You have the right to dispute inaccurate information. If you find information in your file that is false, inaccurate, or incomplete, you have the right to report the information to the credit reporting agency, and the agency must investigate the issue unless they deem your complaint to be frivolous.
  • You have the right to know your credit score. Credit scores are numbers used to assign a value to your credit history and worthiness based on the information in your file. You may request your credit score from these reporting agencies, but you may have to pay a fee in order to obtain it.
  • You have the right to keep access to your credit report limited. Credit reporting agencies are required to keep your information guarded and may only grant access to those who have a “valid need,” such as creditors who are considering an application, insurers, employers, landlords, or other businesses.
  • You may seek damages from violators. If you’ve been wrongfully impacted by an error in your credit report or your rights have been willfully disregarded, you may be able to hold the violator in question responsible and sue them for damages.

What to Do If Your Rights Have Been Violated

If you’ve suffered damages from an erroneous or inaccurate credit report, the first thing you should do is file a complaint with the reporting agency itself, indicating what information you’re disputing and why. The company is required to investigate this claim, so long as it’s not frivolous, and then report their decision back to you. If the party responsible refuses to correct the error, you may file a complaint against them with the appropriate regulator.

It’s also strongly advised you seek assistance from a Chicago consumer law attorney with experience handling disputes and lawsuits due to erroneous credit reports. Call Atlas Consumer Law today at (312) 313-1613 to request a case evaluation and get help exercising your rights!
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