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Protecting Your Rights Against Abusive Debt Collectors
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Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Protecting Your Future and Your Reputation

With the way that our economy and markets are designed today, our credit is one of the most valuable assets we have. When something or someone jeopardizes your credit reputation because of fraudulent activity or reports, you have legal rights to seek correction of the errors and make sure that they don't affect your financial standing.

My name is Michael Forbes and I can provide reliable advice regarding FCRA statutes and reporting procedures. I am well versed in debt collection and reporting laws, and have helped many clients with FCRA issues over the years.

Call my law office for more information regarding credit reporting, and to find out your legal options if your consumer rights have been violated.

Learn more about the Fair Credit Reporting Act and how it affects you:

Don't let errors on your credit report keep you from living life. If you've noticed questionable or incorrect information on your credit report, contact an attorney with experience in FCRA rights.

What is the FCRA?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was passed in 1970 to regulate the collection and use of consumer credit information. Under FCRA guidelines, the Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) must tell you everything in your report, including (in most cases) the sources of the information. The CRA must also give you a list of everyone who has requested your report within the past year (or two years for employment-related requests). Additionally, everyone is entitled to one free credit report a year.

As a consumer, the FCRA guarantees your right to:

  • Accurate and complete credit information at your request
  • Timely response to your report of incorrect information
  • Removal of incorrect information from your report
  • Privacy and control of access to your credit report

There is never a charge for the report if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance or employment, and you request your report within 60 days of receiving the notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the CRA.

In addition, you may be entitled to an extra free report if you're unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days, you're on welfare, or your report is inaccurate because of fraud.

How does the FCRA protect me?

The FCRA was enacted primarily to protect you, the consumer. Specifically, the law states that you have the right to:

  • Access your credit report
  • Protected access to credit information
  • Accurate reporting of credit information
  • Have outdated information removed
  • Having medical information kept off a credit report
  • Request your name removed from unsolicited prescreen calling lists
  • Be notified if your credit report is used against you
  • Be notified of any possible negative information
  • Seek damages from anyone responsible for violating your FCRA rights

The FCRA also provides you with the ability to request a report from the reporting agency free of charge if you were denied credit within the past 60 days, if you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft, if you are unemployed and looking for a job or if you are currently receiving public assistance.

How do I exercise my FCRA rights?

If the CRA will not correct your report
Ask them to include your statement of the dispute in your file and in future reports. At your request, the CRA also will provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of the old report in the recent past. There usually is a fee for this service. If you tell the information provider that you dispute an item, a notice of your dispute must be included anytime the information provider reports the item to a CRA.

How long can a CRA report contain derogatory information?
Information on a report can remain there for no more than seven years. However, there are exceptions. Information about criminal convictions may be reported without any time limitation. Bankruptcy information may be reported for 10 years. Information reported in response to an application for a job with a salary of more than $75,000 has no time limit. Information reported as a result of an application for credit that exceeds $150,000 or life insurance has no time limit. Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations run out, whichever is longer.

How do I report fraud or incorrect information on my credit report?

To report fraud on your report, the first thing you should do is place a FRAUD ALERT on your file with any one of the three reporting agencies. The alert will notify the agency to follow up with you about taking action. Your options to mitigate the negative impact of the possible fraud include:

  • Opening a new account
  • Increasing your credit limit
  • Obtain a new credit card

During the investigation into the possible fraud, it is important that you document every action or conversation you take or have. Every creditor has unique aspects to their methods of investigation; you and your FCRA attorney should get all the information about the process so that you can stay informed at each step. You can follow-up with the reporting agency to ensure that they have made the necessary adjustments for the possibility of fraud so that it does not affect your credit.

Correcting inaccurate or incomplete information
Both the CRA and the information provider have responsibilities for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To protect all your rights under this law, contact both the CRA and the information provider. First, inform the CRA in writing about the information you believe is inaccurate. The CRA must reinvestigate the items in question - usually within 30 days - unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They must also forward all relevant data you provide about the dispute to the information provider.

After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the CRA, it must investigate and review all relevant information provided by the CRA and report the results back to the CRA. If the information provider finds the disputed information to be inaccurate, it must notify all nationwide CRAs so that they can correct this information in your file. When the reinvestigation is complete, the CRA must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or removed, the CRA cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the creditor verifies its accuracy and completeness. Additionally, the CRA must give you a written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the creditor. Next, tell the creditor or other information provider in writing that you dispute an item.

Consumer reporting agencies have various responsibilities under the FCRA, including:

  • Providing credit information contained in the CRA database to the consumer as requested
  • Keeping negative consumer credit information for extended periods of time
  • Verifying any information that is disputed
  • Notifying the customer when any negative information is reinstated
  • A CRA may not supply information about you to your employer, or to a prospective employer, without your consent.

Consult the Law Office of Michael P. Forbes, Esquire, a Philadelphia debt collection defense attorney if you believe your rights have been violated under FCRA statutes.

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