What You Need to Know About Credit Reporting

Last week, Cary Flitter spoke at a consumer rights workshop hosted by Mt. Airy USA, a Philadelphia community-based organization focused on the revitalization of the neighborhood through programs that invest in the community.

The workshop focused on credit reports and consumer rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Cary summed up the key points that every consumer should know about their credit report. Do you know your rights under the FCRA?

You Can Access the Information in Your File

You can request all of the information that the reporting agency has. You can get a free file disclosure if:

  • there’s a negative result after someone accesses your file,
  • you’re a victim of identity theft,
  • your file has inaccurate information due to fraud,
  • you’re on public assistance,
  • or you’re unemployed but expect to find employment within 60 days.

You Must be Informed if Someone Uses Your Credit Against You

If someone accesses your credit report and it results in a negative outcome, like denial for credit, insurance, employment, or a rental property, they’re required to tell you. They should also give you the name, address, and phone number of the agency that gave the information.

You Can Dispute Credit Report Errors

You have the right to an accurate credit report. If any information is inaccurate, write a credit report dispute letter to the reporting agency. They have 30 days to respond to your dispute.

The reporting agencies are obligated to correct or delete information that’s inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable. They also can’t report outdated negative information. In most cases, negative information should be removed after seven years.

Not Just Anyone Can Access Your File

Reporting agencies can only report your information to people who have a valid need for it, like those who are reviewing credit applications, insurance, employment, rental properties, or other business.

Employers Need Your Consent Before They Access Your Report

If an employer or potential employer needs to access your report, they need your written permission.

You Can Ask for Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a number that indicates your creditworthiness. Lenders will see you as less risky if you have a higher score. Check your credit score and report regularly to make sure all information is accurate and up to date.

You Can Limit “Prescreened Offers”

Prescreened offers have to include a toll-free number so that you can request to have your name removed.

You Can Seek Damages from Violators

If a credit bureau or reporting agency violates the FCRA, they can be sued. If you think any of your rights have been violated, contact a credit report lawyer to discuss your options.

Cary will be speaking about debt collection at another Mt. Airy USA consumer rights workshop on May 23. To register, contact Mt. Airy USA at 215-844-6021.