Numerous agencies (lenders, insurers, employers, landlords, etc.) view your credit when making decisions about you – how familiar are you with your credit and your rights? The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) are legislation designed to protect you and your credit.
FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT
This act is designed to promote accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of every consumer’s credit report.
- You must be told if information in your file has been used against you (denial of employment, credit, insurance, etc.)
- You have a right to know what is in your file.
- You are entitled to a free report at any time if: You are unemployed and plan to seek employment within 60 days; you are currently on welfare; you are a fraud victim or you are denied credit, employment, insurance, etc. based on report info.
- All consumers are entitled to one free report (per credit reporting agency) every 12 months upon request – http://annualcreditreport.com/
- You have the right to ask for a credit score (a numerical summary of your creditworthiness). You will have to pay for the score, but you now have access to it.
- You have a right to dispute inaccurate information.
- Inaccurate or unverifiable information must be corrected or deleted.
- Outdated information may not be reported (FCRA specifies duration). 2 years for inquiries; 7 years for ‘most’ negative information; 10 years for judgment liens and most bankruptcies; 10 years [or more] for ‘positive’ information.
- Access to your file is limited – may be used for consideration of applications such as employment, insurance, credit and landlords.
- Forces identification of individuals inspecting your file.
- Consent is required for reports provided to employers or reports containing medical information. An estimated 70% of employers examine credit reports prior to hiring.
- You have a right to file a lawsuit against collector if FCRA has been violated.
- You may limit ‘pre-approved’ offers for credit and insurance. You may opt-out by calling toll free (1-888-5-OPTOUT).
Maintaining the accuracy of your credit report is YOUR responsibility. To read the entire FCRA, go to http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fcra.htm.
FAIR AND ACCURATE CREDIT TRANSACTIONS ACT
Signed into law by Pres. Bush in December of 2003, the Fact Act [as it’s often called] was designed to ensure that all citizens are treated fairly when applying for credit. Specifically, the bill was designed to significantly increase consumer protections against the growing problem of identity theft. FACTA also extends the current provisions (mentioned above) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Some of the major provisions of FACTA:
- Provide consumers with a free credit report every year.
- Give consumers the right to see their credit scores (for a fee).
- Provide consumers with the ability to opt-out of information sharing between affiliated companies for marketing purposes.
- Ensure that consumers are notified if merchants are going to report negative information to the credit bureaus about them.
- Allow consumers to place “fraud alerts” in their credit reports to prevent identity thieves from opening accounts in their names (includes special provisions to active duty military).
- Allow consumers to block information from being given to a credit bureau and from being reported by a credit bureau if such information results from identity theft.
- Restrict access to consumers’ sensitive health information.
- Provide consumers with one-call-for-all protection by requiring credit bureaus to share consumer calls on identity theft, including requested fraud alert blocking.
- Require creditors to take certain precautions before extending credit to consumers who have placed “fraud alerts” in their files.
Stop merchants from printing more than the last five digits of a payment card on an electronic receipt.
Consumer credit is a vital thing for many – the ability to have protections in place to help consumers protect the credit they work so hard to build and develop is critical.