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Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

One of the most important laws protecting your identity and credit information is the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Designed to promote the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of the information collected and maintained by credit reporting agencies, the FCRA gives you specific rights:

You must be told if your information is used against you. If you are denied credit, employment, or insurance because of information in your report, the denying party must alert you and provide you with the name, address, and phone number of the credit reporting agency used to support the denial.

You have access to your file. Upon request, a credit reporting agency must give you the information in your file and a list of everyone who has requested it within a certain time period. There is no charge if you have been denied credit, employment, or insurance because of items in your file (if you make a request within 60 days). In addition, you're entitled to one free report every 12 months if you are unemployed or on welfare, or have proof that your report is inaccurate.

You can dispute inaccurate information. A credit reporting agency must investigate items that you report as inaccurate. You will receive a full copy of the investigation report. If the dispute is not settled to your satisfaction, you may add a statement to your report.

Inaccurate information must be corrected or deleted. Credit reporting agencies are required to remove or correct inaccurate or unverified information. They are not required to remove accurate data unless it is outdated.

Access to your file is limited. Only people and institutions with needs recognized by the FCRA may legally gain access to your file. This normally includes creditors, government agencies, insurers, employers, landlords, and some businesses.

You can remove your name from credit reporting agency lists used for unsolicited credit and insurance offers. Unsolicited offers must include a toll-free phone number you can call to remove yourself from credit reporting agency lists.

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