Fair Credit Reporting Act

What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a law that provides a set of rules that credit bureaus must follow. The act protects everyday Americans by promoting accuracy, fairness, and privacy when it comes to the information in a person’s credit report. The act also designates the Federal Trade Commission as the government authority that enforces it.

Deeper definition

The Fair Credit Reporting Act defines what rights U.S. consumers have in relation to credit bureaus. Some of those rights include:

  • The credit agency must investigate every complaint of inaccurate information and remove or correct it.
  • Any derogatory information on someone’s credit report falls off after seven years, unless it’s a bankruptcy, which remains on her credit report for 10 years.
  • A creditor or other person requesting information from a person’s credit report must show a valid need for the information. The consumer usually has to provide written consent as well.
  • If a creditor or person violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the consumer has the right to sue.

Any time a creditor uses information in someone’s credit report to deny her credit, the creditor must tell her why. In addition, the creditor must give her the name, address, and phone number of the reporting agency he got the information from.

In 2003, an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act specified that anyone has the right to access what’s in her own credit report and that she’s allowed to get one free report from each credit reporting agency every 12 months. She also qualifies for a free report under certain circumstances, such as identity theft, someone taking adverse action against her due to information in her credit report, and being on public assistance.

When buying a home, you can receive your credit score information for free.

Fair Credit Reporting Act example

Hannibal was denied a loan for bad credit. This came as a surprise to him because he always thought he had great credit. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, he’s allowed free access to his credit report once a year, so he pulls his up and realizes it’s showing that he’s delinquent on a previous loan. The problem is that he was never delinquent; in fact, the loan had been paid off months ago. He reports the inaccurate information to the credit bureau, which takes a few weeks to investigate. The credit bureau realizes that Hannibal is correct and removes the negative information. Hannibal’s credit improves overnight.

Other Personal Finance Terms

Experian

Experian is one of the three major credit bureaus. Bankrate explains

Aftercare

Aftercare is care you receive after medical treatment. Bankrate explains.

Disbursement

Disbursement is a financial and accounting term. Bankrate explains what it means.

Money laundering

Money laundering is a criminal activity. Bankrate explains how it works.

More From Bankrate