Why Your Credit Rating is Important
You are evaluated by your credit history every time you apply for credit, make a major purchase, lease an apartment or apply for insurance or a job.
Your credit history includes information on your requests for credit or charge accounts, personal loans, insurance, as well as your history of payment on your bills, your income and the amount of your debts. It will show whether you have ever been sued, arrested or filed for bankruptcy. This information is maintained and sold by a consumer reporting agency (CRA). The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a law intended to protect consumers by governing the way businesses and credit reporting agencies relay a consumer’s credit information.
Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
Consumers have the following protections under the FCRA:
- You have the right to a copy of your credit report, which contains all the information in your file at the time. (You can be charged a fee.)
- Your credit report should list all of the information gathered on you, the sources of the information, and a list of anyone who requested your credit report for employment purposes for the past two years and for most other purposes for the past year.
- A consumer report may contain, in addition to credit information, personal information including the address of where the consumer lives and works, and information on whether the consumer has ever been arrested or filed for bankruptcy.
- Consumer reports cannot be given to prospective employers or employees without the consumer’s consent.
- You may file a dispute with both the CRA and the company that supplied the information to the CRA, if you disagree with the completeness or accuracy of information in your credit report. The CRA and supplier of information are obligated to investigate your dispute within 30 days.
- You can add a summary explanation to your credit report, if a dispute is not resolved to your satisfaction.
- You are entitled to a free credit report, if you are a victim of fraud.
- A CRA cannot charge you when you dispute mistakes or outdated information on your credit record. Ask the credit bureau for a dispute form and submit it with supporting documents.
How To Challenge A Credit Report
If you are denied credit, insurance, or employment because of information supplied by a CRA, you have the right to a free copy of your credit report as long as you request it within 60 days of receiving the denial notice. The denial notice must advise you of your rights and provide the name, address and phone number of the CRA providing the report. The three National Credit Reporting Agencies and their addresses are:
P.O. Box 949
PO Box 740241
P.O. Box 390
760 W. Sprowl Road
Include in your dispute, copies of your receipts, sales slips, and payoff letters. If you are unable to resolve the dispute to your satisfaction, federal law provides that you can add a 49 word explanation to your credit report regarding each item in dispute. There is nothing that a credit repair company can do for you for a fee that you cannot do for yourself for little or no money. A CRA cannot charge you when you dispute mistakes or outdated information on your credit report. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the credit laws and has information for consumers on credit and other consumer issues.
www.ftc.gov or 877-FTC-HELP or 877-382-4357