Through April 20, 2021, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax will offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com to help you protect your financial health during the sudden and unprecedented hardship caused by COVID-19.
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The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that helps to ensure the accuracy, fairness and privacy of the information in consumer credit bureau files. The law regulates the way credit reporting agencies can collect, access, use and share the data they collect in your consumer reports.
What Is the Purpose of the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
Passed in 1970, the FCRA helps consumers understand what actions they can take in regard to the information in their credit reports. Information is being gathered about consumers all the time: In addition to the three major consumer credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax), there are other organizations that may collect and use your information. For example, banks and credit unions may use information from your credit history to determine whether to approve you for a loan.
Why does it matter how information about your credit is used? Whenever you apply for a credit card, a car loan, a mortgage loan or any other form of credit, the issuing company checks your credit history to assess your creditworthiness. The terms you are offered for credit (such as a loan) may be based in part on your credit score and information in your credit report.
Your credit history affects more than just your ability to get loans or the annual percentage rate (APR) on your credit cards. For instance, prospective landlords could check your credit report to see how creditworthy you are when deciding whether they can trust you to pay your rent on time.
In some states, employers may check your credit report for hiring purposes. Also, depending on the state, insurance companies may check your credit to determine whether to offer you coverage.
How Does the FCRA Help Consumers?
The FCRA helps protect you by regulating how information in your consumer report can be used and accessed. Here's an overview of the key aspects of the law.
- The FCRA gives you the right to be told if information in your credit file is used against you to deny your application for credit, employment or insurance.
- The FCRA also gives you the right to request and access all the information a consumer reporting agency has about you (this is called "file disclosure"). You can get one free file disclosure every 12 months from each national credit bureau by going to AnnualCreditReport.com.
- The FCRA gives you access to your credit report but restricts others' access. In general, access is limited to people with a "permissible purpose," such as landlords, creditors and insurance companies. If an employer wants to see your credit report, you must give written consent; employers must meet other requirements as well, and not all states allow employers to pull credit reports as part of an applicant's background check.
- If you find what you believe to be inaccurate or incomplete information on your credit report, you have the right to dispute it. The credit bureau will then contact the data furnisher to confirm whether the information is correct. If it's not, the credit bureau will either correct it or remove it within a certain time period. Accurate negative information, such as bankruptcies and late payments, will be removed after a certain time period.
- The FCRA gives you the option to opt out of the pre-screened offers of credit you receive.
- Finally, the FCRA gives you the ability to put a security freeze on your credit report, which ensures that potential lenders cannot check your credit report without you first lifting the freeze or providing the specific lender with a one-time PIN to access your credit report.
See a more detailed summary of the FCRA below or visit consumerfinance.gov/learnmore/ for more information. Keep in mind that in addition to the FCRA laws, some states have their own laws regulating consumer credit reporting; you'll find that information below under "Notification of Rights."
Para informacion en espanol, visite www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore o escribe a la Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 1700 G Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20552.
A Summary of Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes 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 (such as agencies that sell information about check writing histories, medical records, and rental history records). Here is a summary of your major rights under the FCRA. For more information, including information about additional rights, go to www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore or write to: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 1700 G Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20552.
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 must 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 and obtain all the information about you in the files of a consumer reporting agency (your "file disclosure"). You will be required to provide proper identification, which may include your Social Security number. In many cases, the disclosure will be free. You are entitled to a free file disclosure if:
- a person 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.
In addition, all consumers are entitled to one free disclosure every 12 months upon request from each nationwide credit bureau and from nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies. See www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore for additional information.
You have the right to ask for a credit score. Credit scores are numerical summaries of your creditworthiness based on information from credit bureaus. You may request a credit score from consumer reporting agencies that create scores or distribute scores used in residential real property loans, but you will have to pay for it. In some mortgage transactions, you will receive credit score information for free from the mortgage lender.
You have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information. If you identify information in your file that is incomplete or inaccurate, and report it to the consumer reporting agency, the agency must investigate unless your dispute is frivolous. See www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore for an explanation of dispute procedures.
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 information about you only to people with a valid need -- usually to consider an application with a creditor, insurer, employer, landlord, or other business. The FCRA specifies those with a valid need for access.
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 given to the employer. Written consent generally is not required in the trucking industry. For more information, go to www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore.
You may limit "prescreened" offers of credit and insurance you get 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 at 1 888 5OPTOUT (1 888 567 8688).
You may seek damages from violators. If a consumer reporting agency, or, in some cases, a user of consumer reports or a furnisher of information to a consumer reporting agency violates the FCRA, you may be able to sue in state or federal court.
Identity theft victims and active duty military personnel have additional rights. For more Information, visit www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore.
Consumers Have The Right To Obtain A Security Freeze
You have a right to place a ‘security freeze' on your credit report, which will prohibit a consumer reporting agency from releasing information in your credit report without your express authorization. The security freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in your name without your consent. However, you should be aware that using a security freeze to take control over who gets access to the personal and financial information in your credit report may delay, interfere with, or prohibit the timely approval of any subsequent request or application you make regarding a new loan, credit, mortgage, or any other account involving the extension of credit.
As an alternative to a security freeze, you have the right to place an initial or extended fraud alert on your credit file at no cost. An initial fraud alert is a 1-year alert that is placed on a consumer's credit file. Upon seeing a fraud alert display on a consumer's credit file, a business is required to take steps to verify the consumer's identity before extending new credit. If you are a victim of identity theft, you are entitled to an extended fraud alert, which is a fraud alert lasting 7 years.
A security freeze does not apply to a person or entity, or its affiliates, or collection agencies acting on behalf of the person or entity, with which you have an existing account that requests information in your credit report for the purposes of reviewing or collecting the account. Reviewing the account includes activities related to account maintenance, monitoring, credit line increases, and account upgrades and enhancements.
States may enforce the FCRA, and many states have their own consumer reporting laws. In some cases, you may have more rights under state law. For more information, contact your state or local consumer protection agency or your state Attorney General. For more information about your federal rights, contact:
|FOR QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS REGARDING:||PLEASE CONTACT:|
|1.a. Banks, savings associations, and credit unions with total assets of over $10 billion and their affiliates.|
b. Such affiliates that are not banks, savings associations, or credit unions also should list in addition to the Bureau:
|a. Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection|
1700 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20552b. Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Response Center — FCRA Washington, DC 20580
|2. To the extent not included in item 1 above:|
a. National banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and federal agencies of foreign banks
b. State member banks, branches and agencies of foreign banks (other than federal branches, federal agencies, and insured state branches of foreign banks), commercial lending companies owned or controlled by foreign banks, and organizations operating under section 25 or 25A of the Federal Reserve Act
c. Nonmember Insured banks, Insured State Branches of Foreign Banks, and insured state savings associations
d. Federal Credit Unions
|a. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency|
Customer Assistance Group
1301 McKinney Street, Suite 3450
Houston, TX 77010-9050b. Federal Reserve Consumer Help Center
PO Box 1200
Minneapolis, MN 55480
c. FDIC Consumer Response Center
d. National Credit Union Administration
|3. Air carriers||Asst. General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement & Proceedings|
Aviation Consumer Protection Division
Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20590
|4. Creditors Subject to Surface Transportation Board||Office of Proceedings, Surface Transportation Board|
Department of Transportation
395 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20423
|5. Creditors Subject to Packers and Stockyards Act||Nearest Packers and Stockyards Administration area supervisor|
|6. Small Business Investment Companies||Associate Deputy Administrator for Capital Access|
United States Small Business Administration
409 Third Street, SW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20416
|7. Brokers and Dealers||Securities and Exchange Commission|
100 F St NE
Washington, DC 20549
|8. Federal Land Banks, Federal Land Bank Associations, Federal Intermediate Credit Banks, and Production Credit Associations||Farm Credit Administration|
1501 Farm Credit Drive
McLean, VA 22102-5090
|9. Retailers, Finance Companies, and All Other Creditors Not Listed Above||FTC Regional Office for region in which the creditor operates or Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Response Center - FCRA|
Washington, DC 20580
Notification of Rights
- Notification of Rights for California Consumers
- Notification of Rights for Colorado Consumers
- Notification of Rights for Connecticut Consumers
- Notification of Rights for Maryland Consumers
- Notification of Rights for Massachusetts Consumers
- Notification of Rights for Texas Consumers
- Notification of Rights for Vermont Consumers
- Notification of Rights for Washington Consumers