The federal Fair Credit
Reporting Act (FCRA) is designed to promote accuracy, fairness, and
privacy of information in the files of every "consumer reporting
agency" (CRA). You can find the complete text of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C.
1681-1681u, at the Federal Trade Commission's web site (www.ftc.gov).
The FCRA gives you specific rights, as outlined below. You may have
additional rights under the state law. You may contact a state or
local consumer protection agency or a state attorney general to
learn those rights.
1. You must be told if
information in your file has been used against you. Anyone who uses
information from a CRA to take action against you--such as denying
an application for credit, insurance, or employment--must tell you,
and give you the name, address, and phone number of the CRA that
provided the consumer report.
2. You can find out what
is in your file. At your request, a CRA must give you the
There is no charge for
the report if a person has taken action against you because of
information supplied by the CRA, if you request the report within 60
days of receiving notice of the action. You are also entitled to one
free report every twelve months upon request if you certify that:
you are unemployed and
plan to seek employment within 60 days,
you are on welfare,
your report is
inaccurate due to fraud.
Otherwise, a CRA may
charge you up to eight dollars.
3. You can dispute
inaccurate information with the CRA. 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 its findings to
the CRA. (The source also must advise national CRAs-- to which it
has provided the data--of any error.)
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 include a summary of
your statement in future reports. If an item is deleted or dispute
statement is filed, you may ask that anyone who has recently
received your report be notified of the change.
information must be corrected or deleted. A CRA must remove or
correct inaccurate 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
5. You can dispute
inaccurate items with the source of the information. If you tell
anyone--such as a creditor who reports to the 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 have
notified the source of the error in writing, it may not continue to
report the information if it is, in fact, an error.
6. Outdated 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
7. Access to your file
is limited. A CRA may provide information about you only to people
with a need recognized by the FCRA--usually to consider an
application with a creditor, insurer, employer, landlord, or other
8. Your consent is
required for reports that are provided to employers, or reports that
contain medical information. A CRA may not give out 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.
9. 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.
Such offers must include a toll-free phone number for you to call if
you want your name and address removed from future lists. 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.
10. You may seek damages
from violators. If a CRA, a user or (in some cases) a provider of
CRA data, violates the FCRA, you may sue them in state or federal
The FCRA gives several
different federal agencies authority to enforce the FCRA. For
questions or concerns regarding CRAs, creditors and others not
listed, please contact Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer
Protection-FCRA, Washington, DC 20580 Tel.# (202)-326-3761.