Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the FCRA provides certain rights to consumers related to their credit. The FCRA rights are minimums; if your state law provides more rights, then those apply.
- You are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report once a year from any credit bureau.
- Anyone who uses information from your credit report to take adverse action against you (e.g., deny your request for credit, turn you down for a job) must tell you that they did so, and must provide you the name and contact information for the credit bureau that supplied the information to them.
- You have the right to dispute with the credit bureau anything on your credit report that you believe to be inaccurate. The credit bureau must investigate any non-frivolous such dispute, usually within 30 days. If they find that it is indeed inaccurate, they are required to remove or change the information on the report.
- In most cases, credit bureaus cannot report negative information about you that is more than seven years old, except bankruptcies, which can remain on the report for ten years.
- The information on your credit report is confidential, and may only be reported to those with a valid need to see it, which would normally be someone considering a request for credit, insurance, employment, rental, etc. In most cases, even those parties will need your written consent. (Thus when you apply for a job or apply to rent an apartment, your prospective employer or landlord will have you sign a form consenting to their pulling your credit.)
- You may limit the misleading “prescreened” or “preapproved” offers of credit and insurance that have become so common in recent years. All those who send such unsolicited items must provide a toll free number you can call to have your name taken off the lists these offers are based on if you choose.
- You have the right to sue and receive damages if you are harmed as a result of a violation of the FCRA by a credit bureau or by someone who provides information to or uses information from a credit bureau.
In addition to the above, there are additional provisions that apply specifically to active duty military personnel and to victims of identity theft.