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New York | New Jersey Fair Credit Reporting Act Attorneys

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that requires that consumers have access to their credit reports. The FCRA also regulates the credit bureaus’ procedures for fairness, accuracy, and privacy with respect to all information located in the reports of credit reporting agencies. A person’s credit report and credit score are essential tools that are intended to represent financial health.

This determination of financial health can allow a person to receive credit or purchase a large item, such as a home or vehicle. Additionally, some employers will look at credit reports prior to hiring an individual for their company. Any errors on a credit report can have a negative and devastating effect on a person’s financial status and future. An experienced lawyer can help you right this wrong.

How the FCRA regulates credit reporting

The FCRA governs several aspects of an individual’s credit report, including how a credit bureau can share and collect information about an individual. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) both oversee and enforce different provisions of the FCRA.

Consumer rights and the FCRA

The FCRA provides protections to consumers by extending specific rights under the act. These rights do not only apply to credit bureaus. According to the FTC, medical records, renters’ history and check writing histories are additional types of consumer reporting data that the FCRA applies to. Any failure of a credit reporting bureau or other applicable agency to comply with these consumer rights allows a consumer or that person’s lawyer to file a complaint with the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Right to your information

The law requires that all individuals have the right to request a copy of their credit report in full for free once a year from all three major credit reporting agencies. These documents contain the three-digit number the agencies have on file that determines a person’s credit health or borrowing risk. Consumers might also request special paid reports related to some mortgage transactions and residential property loans.

Right to be notified of adverse decisions

Consumers have the right to receive a notification from a credit agency if their files were used against them regarding any transaction or application for credit. If a lender, insurance company, employer, landlord or another entity makes a decision against you based on the information contained in your credit report, they need to inform you of this.

Right to dispute inaccuracies

A consumer always has the legal right to dispute any information included in their credit report, and have that information corrected if it turns out to be fraudulent or inaccurate. The credit reporting agency must investigate all claims of discrepancies submitted unless they determine the dispute to be of a frivolous nature. If the information turns out to be incorrect, then reporting agencies do have a legal obligation to correct or delete the information within 30 days.

Right to accurate information

A consumer has the legal right to have all negative information removed after a specific period of time. This typically pertains to bankruptcy cases, which should generally be removed from a report after seven to 10 years. If this does not happen automatically, consumers can make a request or seek assistance from an attorney.

Right to restrict access

The threat of identity theft is one of the most important reasons only consumers can provide access to their reports and on a strictly need-to-know basis. Privacy concerns are also valid. People with a legitimate need as identified by the FTC include the following:

  • Insurance companies
  • Landlords
  • Employers
  • Creditors

Right to withhold consent from employers

For employers to use your credit history when making a hiring or promotion decision, you must provide written consent. Without this, employers cannot legally access your credit information and would face penalties for doing so. Unfortunately, the trucking industry is an exception to this as employers can access drivers’ information without written consent.

Right to restrict prescreened offers

One of the big contributing factors that keep residents in debt is that creditors bombard them with offers on a daily basis. What many consumers might not realize is that they can put an end to these by removing their personal information from the database companies use to submit offers. The FTC recommends calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT to achieve this.

Right to a security freeze

If you believe you have been or might soon become a victim of identity theft, then you might be considering a security freeze. There are also many people who choose to freeze their credit accounts as a proactive measure, regardless of the risk level. When you exercise this right, consumer reporting agencies need your express authorization to disclose your credit history to any entity.

Right to seek damages

You have the right to seek damages against the credit reporting bureaus if they violate the FCRA. Entities that report information to the credit bureaus and entities that use this information can also become liable for damages to you if they violate the FCRA.

Examples of inaccurate reporting that violate the FCRA

There are many reporting practices and inaccuracies that can cause trouble for you as a consumer and violate the FCRA. Here are some of the most common examples you might encounter:

  • Failure to remove legitimate credit accounts that are now closed
  • Failure to correct any inaccurate information regarding late or delinquent payments
  • Duplicate debts reporting the same information more than once
  • Legitimate credit accounts that have incorrect information such as inaccurate opening dates, payments or delinquencies
  • Incorrect user information with respect to a credit account, such as listing an individual as an owner instead of simply as an authorized user
  • Failure to correct data errors found on credit reports resulting from software program errors
  • Legitimate credit accounts with incorrect balances or incorrect credit limits listed or incorrect credit limits listed

Contact an experienced FCRA attorney

The Schmierer Law Group represents clients nationwide with FCRA claims. You have legal rights under the FCRA and under the law. If you feel that your rights were violated in any way or need assistance with errors found on your credit reports, contact the Schmierer Law Group today. Find out how we can protect your legal rights.