Fair Credit Reporting Act

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) addresses the accuracy, fairness and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies. There are many types of consumer reporting agencies, including credit bureaus and specialty agencies that sell information about check writing histories, medical records, rental history records, etc. Here is a summary of your major rights under the FCRA:

You must be told if information in your file has been used against you.  Anyone who uses a credit report or another type of consumer report to deny your application for credit, insurance, or employment --- or to take another adverse action against you --- must tell you and give you the name, address and phone number of the agency that provided the information.

You have the right to know what is in your file.  You may request all the information about you in the files of a consumer reporting agency (your “file disclosure”). You may be entitled to a free file disclosure if:

  • Someone has taken adverse action against you because of information in your credit report.
  • You are the victim of identity theft and place a fraud alert in your file.
  • Your file contains inaccurate information as a result of fraud.
  • You are on public assistance.
  • You are unemployed but expect to apply for employment within 60 days.

You have the right to see your credit score.  Credit scores are numerical summaries of your creditworthiness based on information from credit bureaus. You may request your credit score from consumer reporting agencies that create scores or distribute scores used in residential property loans, but you will have to pay for the score.

You have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information.  If you identify information in your file that is incomplete or inaccurate, report it to the consumer reporting agency and the agency must investigate unless your dispute is frivolous.

Consumer reporting agencies must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete or unverifiable information. Inaccurate, incomplete or unverifiable information must be removed or corrected, usually within 30 days. However, a consumer reporting agency may continue to report information it has verified as accurate.

Consumer reporting agencies may not report outdated negative information.  In most cases, a consumer reporting agency may not report negative information that is more than seven years old, or bankruptcies that are more than 10 years old.

Access to your file is limited.  A consumer reporting agency may provide your information only to people with a valid need.  This is usually a creditor, insurer, employer, landlord or other business to which you have submitted an application.

You must give your consent for reports to be provided to employers.  A consumer reporting agency may not give out information about you to your employer, or a potential employer, without your written consent.

You may limit “prescreened” offers of credit and insurance based on information in your credit report. Unsolicited “prescreened” offers for credit and insurance must include a toll-free phone number you can call if you choose to remove your name and address from the lists these offers are based on. You may opt out with the nationwide credit bureaus by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688).