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The Most Common Violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provides protection against the misuse and misreporting of an individual’s credit information. The FCRA governs the behavior of consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) or credit bureaus and those reporting information to them. Your credit report can determine whether you can obtain a mortgage, car loan, job, and even an apartment. When creditors, debt collectors, or credit reporting agencies violate the FCRA, it can decrease your credit score, lead to a denial of credit, cause higher interest rates on loans, and more. This is why it’s important to know if the FCRA has been violated – so you can take action to repair your credit.
Common Violations of the FCRA
The nation’s three largest credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – are required by law to do everything possible to accurately gather and report consumer information. Together, they keep files on more than 200 million Americans and issue more than three billion credit reports a year. Given the volume of information, it’s inevitable FCRA errors occur. Here are some of the more common ways creditors, collectors, and CRAs violate the FCRA:
- Furnishing and Reporting Old Information: When your credit circumstances change, your credit report must be updated. If it’s not updated, it constitutes an FCRA violation.
- Furnishing and Reporting Inaccurate Information: Creditors can only report information to the credit reporting agencies (“CRAs”) that is accurate and may be liable under the FCRA for failing to do so.
- Mixing Files: One of the most harmful FCRA violations occurs when a stranger’s credit information is mixed into your credit report. When an agency mixes up your files with someone else’s who has similar background information, it violates the FCRA.
- Failing to Follow Proper Procedures: When a CRA reports inaccurate information, you can dispute it and request an investigation. The CRA must conduct a reasonable investigation into your claim and report back to you.
- Privacy Violations: Your credit report can only be disclosed to “permissible parties” with a “valid need,’’ such as creditors, landlords, insurance providers, utility companies, loan issuers, and more. In addition, there must be a valid purpose for a permissible party to review your credit information or they will be in violation of the FCRA. One of the most common impermissible purposes is when an employer pulls your report without your permission.
- Requesting a Credit Report for an Impermissible Purpose: The FCRA limits who can access your credit report and the reasons why your credit file may be pulled. Should someone pull your credit without your permission or without a permissible purpose, this is a violation of the FCRA.
Your Rights Under The Fair Credit Reporting Act
If you have reason to suspect a credit report might have erroneously damaged your financial standing, get the name of the national credit agency that provided the report. Then contact the agency to request a copy of the report. The agency must supply you with the report within 30 days for free. If you find an error, notify the CRA in writing, explaining the error and requesting a correction. If the agency investigates and does nothing, and if you are still sure the report contains errors, contact the FCRA Lawyers of Whitfield Bryson LLP for help.
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