Credit mistakes happen. Even with today's technology (and good intentions), sometimes information is recorded incorrectly. Individuals with junior or senior as part of their name, victims of fraud, people in divorce situations, etc. sometimes find the information on their credit report is incorrect. When this occurs, you usually have to contact all three major credit bureaus - Experian, Equifax and Trans Union - and work with them individually to correct your report. Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have certain rights if you dispute the information on your credit report. The FCRA gives you the following rights:
- You have to be notified when someone uses your credit against you. If a lender, potential employer, insurance company or anyone else denies your application because of your credit history, they must notify you in writing. This must include the name, address and phone number of the credit bureau they used in making this decision.
- You have the right to know what is in your credit file. Often referred to as disclosure, it is free when: an application for credit has been denied, someone is a victim of identity fraud, you are on public assistance or you are unemployed but expect to apply for a job within two months. The FCRA states all consumers are entitled to one free report, every 12 months, from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). You can call 1-877-322-8228 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting FREE 1-877-322-8228 end_of_the_skype_highlighting to request your copy or you can order online or by mail. See www.ftc.gov/credit for additional information.
- You have the right to ask for your credit score from the credit bureaus. You will have to pay for this, but they cannot deny giving you your credit score. Sometimes lenders will provide this information for free if they are doing your loan.
- You have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information. Once you have made a report to one of the agencies, they have to investigate your claim (unless they believe it is frivolous).
- Incomplete, inaccurate or unverifiable information must be deleted from your credit history. Usually the time given to delete this information is thirty days.
- Credit bureaus cannot report outdated negative information. Adverse credit such as collections, judgments, foreclosures, etc. can remain on your report for seven years. By law, bankruptcy does not have to be removed for ten years.
- Access to your credit history is limited. It is only available to those with a valid need. The FCRA provides a list of acceptable situations (see www.ftc.gov/credit). It is typically creditors, insurers, employers, landlords or other business-related entities.
- Written permission from you is required before a credit bureau can release your credit history to a potential employer.
- You can limit the number of "prescreened" offers for credit that you receive. Unsolicited offers for credit have to include a toll-free phone number you call if you would like to remove your name from their list.
- You have the right to seek damage from violators. This includes the credit bureaus, the furnisher of the information to the bureaus, or the user of the credit report. You have the right to sue in state or federal court.
- Certain individuals, identity theft victims and active duty military personnel have additional rights. See www.ftc.gov/credit for a more detailed explanation.
States or the federal government can enforce the FCRA. Some states have passed their own credit laws. In that situation, you would apply the law that was most related to your problem. Information on state credit laws can be obtained from your local Consumer Protection Agency or the Attorney General for your state.
Margaret is a Personal Life Coach, Writer, and Speaker. The owner of Life Transitions, she helps others build self-confidence and make positive changes in their lives. Her passion is creating more awareness about abuse, helping to change one life at a time. See her web sites www.whentiesbreak.blog.com www.margaretnorton.com www.whentiesbreak.com