Thanks to the Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA), you can check your credit report to see if it’s accurate and remove any out-of-date information. For decades, the FCRA has been around to help consumers gain access to their credit scores, histories, and reports. Without it, creditors and banks could see your financial information—but you couldn’t. Understanding your rights under this law can help you stay on top of your credit and finances.
What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the FCRA “promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy” of your credit information. If your information isn’t accurate, the FCRA allows you to fix it. Before the law existed, there was no way to make sure consumer reporting agencies acted in your best interest. Many times, consumer reporting agencies maintained inaccurate information. Now, thanks to the FCRA, you have the right to access your credit information and fight against inaccuracies in your report.
Your Rights Under the FCRA
The FCRA protects you and your credit information. Under the FCRA, you have the right to:
- See your credit reports: According to the FCRA, you can see your credit file from each of the 3 main credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—for free once every 12 months. You easily can do so at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you request your credit file online, you need to answer some ID verification questions to prevent scammers from accessing your data. In addition to your 3 annual credit reports, you're entitled to a free annual copy of any reports from other types of consumer reporting agencies.
- Ask for a credit score: The FCRA also gives you the right to request a credit score. Most credit agencies charge for credit score access and it's legal for them to do so. Fortunately, an increasing number of credit cards provide free credit scores.
- Dispute errors on your credit report: Once you receive a credit report, review it for errors. If you don't recognize a line of credit or other loan, that could be a sign of identity theft. You can also dispute any erroneous information you find with the credit reporting agency. To dispute an item with a credit bureau, you must mail them a letter and copies of documents that support your position.