The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law enacted in 1970 that helps ensure the accuracy, fairness and privacy of the information contained in the files of certain consumer reporting agencies that includes credit bureaus. The law simply regulates the manner in which credit reporting agencies use the information collected from your consumer reports and history.
The law’s intent is to protect consumers from misleading or incorrect information that might be used against them in a debt lawsuit or to tarnish their personal credit rating according to experts in the debt lawsuit and consumer protection field.
Under the FCRA, you have the right to accurate reporting and privacy related to your credit information. If someone violates your rights under the FCRA, you have several legal remedies available that could result in monetary damages in addition to attorneys’ fees and costs. The type of compensation will vary based on whether the violation was intentional or negligent.
Today, the FCRA helps consumers understand their legal positions with regard to their credit report information. In this day of hyper data collection, consumer information is constantly being collected, not only by the most highly profiled credit bureaus like Experian, TransUnion and Equifax but also by banks and smaller credit unions who pull info from your personal credit history for things like loan approval.
Why Should I Care About the FCRA?
Your credit rating is a baseline for how your life will evolve when it comes to life-changing purchases like a house, a car, a loan or even getting a credit card. Keeping your credit score well above-average will ease the ability to acquire these things, and keep a roof over your family’s head and food on the table. Falling below an average credit rating or, worse, accumulating so much debt that a harassing debt lawsuit appears on the horizon can turn a person or family’s life completely upside-down, ruining any chance for them to remain financially upright and on their feet. The best help to fight a debt lawsuit is to defend against predatory lenders, is to know your rights.
Your credit affects more than your ability to get a loan at a reasonable annual percentage rate (APR), but can also affect the ability to secure a rental property as potential landlords can check your credit background to see how trustworthy your rent-paying capacity might be.
Your credit could also affect your ability to secure employment, as some companies may check your credit history for hiring purposes in determining the stability of your life. The good news is that the FCRA can help with protection as to exactly what and how details of your consumer report can be seen and utilized. Here are some of the most salient sections of this law as reported by leaders in debt related lawsuits at GM Law Firm LLC.
- Full Disclosure
If any information in your personal credit history is specifically used against approving an application for things like a job, credit or a loan, you have the right for full disclosure under the FCRA. If any of your private information has been used against you, you have the right to demand the name and contact info of the agency that provided the information.
- File Disclosure
Everyone has the right to know what is in their file. Personally, you have the right to full disclosure to request and receive all the info that a consumer reporting agency thinks it has about you. In short, you must be told if anything residing in your file has been used to deny an application for things like credit or employment. File disclosure is particularly important if you have been the victim of identity theft or fraudulent activity.
- Access Limitations
While you have full access to your credit files, the FCRA can help limit that same access to third parties like landlords or creditors and even employers who must be given express written consent by you before having the ability to pull an individual’s credit report.
- Accuracy Protection
If you do examine your credit report and see inaccuracies or details that are incomplete, you have the right to dispute those items. Once proven that your assertions were correct, the credit bureau must either remove or correct the misinformation within a specific amount of time that can vary from state to state. In addition, any outdated negative details from your report that should have been removed must not be reported if that info is over seven years old. A legal debt specialist can help uncover the exact regulations for your situation.
- Minimizing Pre-Screened Credit Offers
Many companies will contact an individual with so-called “pre-screened” offers of credit lines or insurance based on what these companies have gleaned from your credit report. These unsolicited offers can ultimately be deemed a kind of harassment if a toll-free number is not included in the offer which allows you to opt-out and remove your contact details from their database.
- Security Freeze
Under the terms of the FCRA, you can also put what’s called a “security freeze” on your credit report. By doing so, potential lenders cannot access your credit report without your prior approval which, when granted, lifts the freeze. Thus, you have control over when and how an organization can access your most personal information.
Many states have separate and differing consumer reporting laws. That’s why you must know your rights in the event of a debt lawsuit. If you feel your rights under the FCRA have been violated, you should seek counsel from a debt legal attorney group like the GM Law Firm in Boca Raton, Florida, to help discover where violations may have occurred and protect your debt from falling into disarray.
In addition, you may be entitled to damages from those who violate the FCRA, and you may have a strong case to present in a state or federal court. In addition, victims of identity theft or active military personnel have even greater additional rights under this federal law. Consult an attorney group that specializes in debt resolution and debt-related lawsuits like the GM Law Firm to see where you stand in your defense.
Fighting Back Against FCRA Violations
In today’s fragile environment of escalating personal debt, many consumer advocacy groups are invoking the statutes of the FCRA to question the methods and accuracy of the findings that credit reporting agencies (CRA) amass and disseminate. These same advocacy groups now urge consumers to dispute misleading or factually inaccurate findings with a demand to remove fraudulent details from their credit report or face a consumer lawsuit.
The CRAs gather and store credit information for over 200 million citizens in the U.S. These CRAs then sell that information to organizations who use it to decide if loans or credit should be approved or denied.
We know in this day of shared data that so much of our personal information can be made public. These CRAs monitor a consumer’s bill-paying habits and history when it comes to credit card usage and other debt repayments. They then apply these usage patterns to a set of algorithms that thus assigns a specific credit “score” to an individual. This score is then used to judge whether that consumer is trustworthy when it comes to paying back a loan or line of credit.
This info is then provided to banks, credit card companies or lenders in multiple sectors – in essence to any entity being asked to extend credit to an individual. If approved, that same info will be used to establish the conditions and interest rate for the loan or credit line.
If it can be determined a CRA or any entity that acquired your personal financial information then used those findings in violation of the FCRA, you may be entitled to recover damages in a court of law. These could include actual damages where there is no limit or statutory damages between $100 and $1,000 where you don’t have the burden to prove these violations were of harm to you. Punitive damages could also be awarded, the settlement of which would be decided by the court. Handling any potential FCRA violations will require the assistance of a professional debt lawsuit attorney such as the senior partners of the GM Law Firm who will strategize the most effective way to pursue a proper lawsuit and get the damage settlement that meets federal regulations. In addition, applicable attorney fees and costs could also be a major part of any victorious lawsuit.
To learn more about FCRA violations, talk to consumer protection experts in the event of a lawsuit like the attorney group at the GM Law Firm to understand your rights and where you stand in a court-room battle.