Credit report: Summary of your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act - Part 2

Knowing your rights can help you avoid identity theft and save you money.

The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy, fairness and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies. When you order your free credit report, you need to provide your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. To verify your identity, you may need to provide some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Below, Michigan State University Extension provides a few consumer rights under the FCRA:

  • You have the right to ask for a credit score. The FICO® score is the industry standard used by most financial and credit institutions, but you will have to pay for it. In some mortgages or other loan transactions you may receive a credit score free from the lender.
  • You have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information. If you identify information in your file that is incomplete or inaccurate, and report it to the consumer reporting agency, the agency must investigate unless your dispute if frivolous.
  • Inaccurate, incomplete or unverifiable information must be removed or corrected, usually within 30 days. However, the consumer reporting agency is not required to remove accurate derogatory information from your file unless it is outdated or cannot be verified.
  • Consumer reporting agencies may not report outdated negative information. In most cases, a consumer reporting agency may not report negative information that is more than seven years old, or bankruptcies that are more than 10 years old.
  • Access to your file is limited by others. A consumer reporting agency may provide information about you only to people with a valid need – usually to consider an application with a creditor, insurer, employer, landlord or other business. On page 12 of the FCRA it specifies those who have a valid need for access.
  • You must give your consent for reports to be provided to employers. A consumer reporting agency may not give out information about you to your employer, or potential employer, without written consent given by you to the employer. Written consent generally is not required in the trucking industry.
  • You may limit “prescreened” offers of credit and insurance you receive based on information in your credit report. Unsolicited “prescreened” offers for credit and insurance must include a toll-free number you can call if you choose to remove your name and address from the lists these offers are based on. You may opt-out by calling 1-888-567-8688 or visit
  • You may seek damages from violators. If a consumer reporting agency, or in some cases a user of consumer reports or a furnisher of information to a consumer reporting agency, violates the FCRA, you may be able to sue in state or federal court.
  • Identify theft victims and active duty military personnel have additional rights. Active-duty military personnel can place an “active duty alert” in their credit reports that requires creditors to verify their identity before issuing credit in their name.

For more information visit the Federal Trade Commission.

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