What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that regulates how consumer reporting agencies use your information. Enacted in 1970 and substantially amended in the late 1990s and again in 2003, the FCRA, among other things,restricts who has access to your sensitive credit information and how that information can be used.
Summary of Rights
The FCRA is a complex piece of legislation and contains numerous provisions not discussed on this page. Below are several important features of how the FCRA is designed to help consumers (for the complete text, visit the Federal Trade Commission). The FCRA protects you by requiring consumer reporting agencies:
Disclose your credit file to you upon request. Consumer reporting agencies must provide you the information in your file if you request it and provide the agency with proper identification. See "How do I get a free report? " for more information.
Limit access to your information. A consumer reporting agency may not provide your credit report to any party that lacks a permissible purpose, such as the evaluation of an application for a loan, credit, service, or employment. Permissible purposes also include several business and legal uses. See "Who can access my Equifax credit file?" for more information.
Get your consent before providing your information to an employer. A consumer reporting agency may not provide your credit information to an employer or potential employer unless you first give that employer written permission to request your credit report.
Investigate disputed information. If you tell a consumer reporting agency that your file contains inaccurate information, the agency must promptly investigate the matter with the source that provided the information. If the investigation fails to resolve the dispute, you may add a statement to your credit file explaining the matter. For more information, see Correcting Errors in Your Report.
Correct or delete inaccurate information. A consumer reporting agency must correct or, as the case may be, delete from your credit file the information that is found to be inaccurate or can no longer be verified. The consumer reporting agency is not required to remove accurate data from your file unless it is outdated.
Delete outdated information. In general, negative information that is more than 7 years old (10 years for bankruptcies) must be removed from your file.
Remove your name from marketing lists upon request. Consumer reporting agencies can provide lists of consumer names and addresses whose credit information matches the requirements of creditors and insurers for making firm offers of credit or insurance to the consumers on the list. However, you can request that the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies not share your information with creditors and insurers for these purposes by calling 1-888-5-OPT OUT.
Disclose your credit score to you upon request. You have the right to request a credit score about you. For Equifax, the cost of your credit score disclosure is $7.95. In some mortgage transactions, you will get credit score information without charge by contacting the person making or arranging your loan for further information. To request your credit score from Equifax, please contact:
Equifax Information Services LLC
PO Box 105252
Atlanta, GA 30348
Add identity theft and active duty alerts. Identity theft victims may place fraud alerts and active duty military personnel serving away from their regular duty station may place "active duty" alerts to help prevent identity theft. See "What is a Fraud Alert?" for more information.
Remedying the Effects of Identity Theft. If you are, or believe that you are, the victim of identity theft, you have specific rights under the FCRA. These rights will help you deal with the effects of identity theft. Click here to view a brief summary of the rights designed to help you recover from identity theft.