The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that regulates the consumer reporting (sometimes referred to as background reporting) industry. It imposes obligations on the companies that create consumer reports, the companies that use consumer reports, and the companies that supply information used in consumer reports. The FCRA covers credit reports and more, including employment background reports, tenant screening reports, and many other types of reports sold about individuals.
The FCRA is a consumer protection statute. Its purpose is to protect the privacy and personal information of consumers by requiring that consumer reports contain accurate and up-to-date information, and that they are only used for certain permissible purposes.
Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
As a consumer-protection statute, the FCRA provides you with several rights, including:
You have the right to know what is in your file. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires background reporting agencies (also known as consumer reporting agencies), upon request of the consumer, to “clearly and accurately disclose . . . . (1) All information in the consumer's file at the time of the request.” 15 § U.S.C. 1681g(a). This is a critical right afforded to individuals under the FCRA because it allows an individual to ensure that the information about them in the background reporting agency's files is accurate and up to date. Oftentimes this disclosure will be free.
You have the right to dispute inaccurate or incomplete information in your consumer report. The consumer reporting agency must conduct an investigation of your dispute and delete or modify any information that is inaccurate, incomplete, or cannot be verified. Under Section 1681i of the Fair Credit Reporting Act:
"if the completeness or accuracy of any item of information contained in a consumer's file at a consumer reporting agency is disputed by the consumer and the consumer notifies the agency directly, or indirectly through a reseller, of such dispute, the agency shall, free of charge, conduct a reasonable reinvestigation to determine whether the disputed information is inaccurate and record the current status of the disputed information, or delete the item from the file in accordance with paragraph (5), before the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date on which the agency receives the notice of the dispute from the consumer or reseller."
If you believe that there is inaccurate information on your background or credit report, you should dispute the information with the background reporting agency as soon as possible. The background reporting agency must conduct a reasonable investigation at no charge to you and must provide written notice to you of the results of a reinvestigation not later than 5 business days after the completion of the reinvestigation.
You must be told if information in your file has been used against you. Anyone who uses a consumer report to deny you credit, insurance, employment – or 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.
Consumer reporting agencies may provide information about you only to people with a permissible purpose, usually to consider an application for credit, insurance, employment, housing rental, or other business purposes.
You may opt-out of “prescreened” offers of credit and insurance you get based on information in your credit report.
These are just a few of the rights the FCRA affords consumers. If you have questions about your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, please contact the FCRA attorneys at Weiner & Sand LLC.