The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a United States federal law (codified at Title 15 United States Code Section 1681 and following) that regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer information, including consumer credit information. If you or somebody you know is struggling with accurate credit reporting, you should contact our Fair Credit Reporting Act lawyers immediately for a free consultation. Please click https://www.352law.com/contact/ to contact our Fair Credit Reporting Act attorneys or call (352) 505-8900 to schedule your free consultation.
What Are Consumer Credit Reports?
Consumer credit reports are any written, oral or other communications of information collected by a consumer reporting agency bearing on the consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living. The purpose of which is used or expected to be used in establishing the consumer’s eligibility for:
- Credit or insurance to be used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, or
- Employment purposes, or
- Other purposes authorized by the Act
As the industry has grown, the number of problems associated with consumer reports has escalated. A Consumer’s Union survey of consumer reports on 57 consumers from the three major credit bureaus found that 48 percent of the reports contained inaccurate information. Many reports contained more than one inaccuracy, and 19 percent contained an inaccuracy that could adversely affect a consumer’s eligibility for credit. From 1990 to 1993, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more complaints regarding consumer reporting agencies than any other industry. Almost one-fifth of all complaints filed with the Commission concerned consumer reporting.
If a consumer’s information is used for credit, insurance, or employment purposes and adverse action is taken as a result of information in the consumer report, the entity that pulled the report must notify the consumer of said action. For example, a corporation violated FCRA when denying applications or rescinding employment offers based on consumer reports and not advising consumers that the reports contributed to the adverse action and by not then providing name and address of consumer reporting’ agency supplying reports. If you believe your Fair Credit Reporting Act rights have been violated, do not hesitate, call (352) 505-8900 to schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney prepared to fight for your rights.
Who Creates Consumer Credit Reports?
Credit bureaus and credit reporting agencies track information regarding your fiscal life often and then sell these to creditors, lenders and other companies who are inquiring. Credit (Consumer) Reporting Agencies (CRAs) are Those “who for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engage in … the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties, and [who use] any means or facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of preparing or furnishing consumer reports.” 15 U.S.C. S 1681a(f). (e.g., TRW, Trans Union Credit Corporation). Agencies or persons may become credit reporting agencies if they regularly furnish information beyond their own transactions to others for use in consumer transactions. Creditors that report information about their own experiences with consumers are not credit reporting agencies nor are they issuing a “consumer report.” If the creditor reports any information other than that obtained in its own dealings with consumer, then it may meet definition of “consumer reporting agency.”
Explaining the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The credit reporting industry in this country is a multibillion dollar industry that involves the sale and use of personal and financial data on millions of Americans. Consumer reports are routinely used to make decisions about whether to offer a job or lease an apartment, whether to extend a mortgage or issue a credit card or whether to underwrite insurance or provide a checking account. Where the ability of an individual to obtain a job, a mortgage, or insurance turn on the contents of his or her consumer report, it is essential that consumer reports be reasonably free of errors, that consumer reporting agencies be responsive to consumer complaints about mistakes, and that consumers have some control over the use of their confidential information
Permissible purposes for releasing reports vary. Credit reporting agencies may furnish consumer reports only in response to a court order or subpoena issued in connection with proceedings before federal grand jury, or with the consent of the consumer to whom the report relates. Also to a person who the CRA has reason to believe:
- Intends to use the report in connection with a credit transaction involving the consumer,
- Intends to use the report for employment purposes, or
- Intends to use the report in connection with the consumer’s insurance, or
- Intends to use the report in connection with the consumer’s eligibility for a license or other benefit conferred by the government, or
- Has another legitimate business need for the information in connection with a business transaction involving the consumer.
Explaining Obsolete Information
Unless otherwise specified, the following information is considered “obsolete” and cannot be included in a CRA’s consumer report (Note: this is adverse information; favorable information that is old may be included in the report):
- Bankruptcy adjudications which antedate the consumer report by more than 10 years.
- Paid tax liens which antedate the consumer report by more than 7 years.
- Accounts placed for collection or charged to profit and loss which antedate the consumer report by more than 7 years.
- Records of criminal arrest, indictment, or conviction which, from the date of disposition, release, or parole, antedate the consumer report by more than 7 years.
- Suits and judgments which, from date of entry, antedate the consumer report by more than 7 years or until the governing statute of limitations has expired, whichever is the longer period.
- Any other adverse item of information which antedates the consumer report by more than 7 years.
“Obsolete” information CAN be included in the consumer report IF the report is intended for use involving (15 U.S.C. S 1681c):
- The consumer’s participation in a credit transaction of $50,000 or more.
- Issuance of life insurance coverage on the consumer of $50,000 or more.
- Employment of the consumer at an annual salary of $20,000 or more.
Credit Accuracy is Key!
It is important for consumers to insist that their credit report accurately reflect their credit history and that their credit report be viewed only by those who are authorized to do so. Negative information reported can severely damage a credit score and the ability to obtain credit to purchase goods or invest in a home. The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides remedies for consumers who have been harmed by incorrect information placed on their credit reports by the credit bureaus or those who report credit information to the credit bureaus.
Review Your Credit Report
Go over your credit report to insure that the information reported is accurate. Specifically, you should be looking for things like:
- Inaccurate or simple reporting errors
- Discharged debt still reported as owing
- Impermissible pulls of your credit
- Debts reported that are not yours
It is not uncommon for consumers to have another consumer’s financial and credit information reported on the wrong credit file. If this mistaken identity or “mixed file” happens to you, gather your credit report and call Massey & Duffy to set your free consolation to speak to an experienced Fair Credit Reporting Act attorney.
Upon request, a consumer can obtain a summary of the nature and substance of the information in the CRA’s files and the identities of those who have received the report within the past 2 years for employment purposes and within the past six months for other purposes. If the consumer, disputes the completeness or accuracy of the report, the CRA must investigate within a reasonable time and record the current status of the disputed information unless the CRA has reason to believe that the dispute is frivolous or irrelevant. CRRA would require CRAs to reinvestigate disputed information and to record the current status of the information within the later of 30 days after receipt of the initial notice of the dispute from the consumer or 15 days after receipt of additional relevant information from the consumer concerning the dispute.
If the investigation does not resolve the dispute, the consumer may file a statement of not more than 100 words. In future reports, the CRA must note that the entry is disputed by the consumer and provide the consumer’s statement. If the investigation reveals that the disputed entry is inaccurate or can no longer be verified, the CRA must delete the information. Following either correction of the report or receipt of a consumer’s statement in rebuttal, the CRA must furnish a copy of the annotated report (and consumer’s statement, where appropriate) to “any person specifically designated by the consumer” who has received the report:
- Within the past 2 years for employment purposes.
- Within the past 6 months for other purposes.
There is civil liability for willful noncompliance including actual damages, punitive damages, and court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees if the consumer prevails. In regards to civil liability for negligent noncompliance actual damages plus court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees may be available if the consumer prevails. The Fair Credit Reporting Act does not make reporting agencies strictly liable for all inaccuracies.
Statues of Limitations Exist – Call Massey & Duffy Today
Our lawyers have the experience and ability required to support our client on an expansive scope of Fair Credit Reporting Act issues. At Massey & Duffy, we are experienced attorneys fighting for what is right. Please click here to contact our FCRA attorneys today or call (352) 505-8900 to schedule your free consultation.