http://www.consumerlitigators.com/2265/fair-credit/the-fair-credit-reporting-act-provides-important-consumer-protections/January 14, 2012
The Fair Credit Reporting Act Provides ImportantConsumer Protections
byJoseph Mullaneyon January 14, 2012 ·1 comment
An Inaccurate Credit Report Can be CorrectedCongress enacted the
Fair Credit Reporting Act
(FCRA) to provide consumers with importantconsumer rights regarding the information found intheir credit reports. The FCRA also providesconsumers a valuable opportunity to correcterroneous or inaccurate information in their reports.Originally passed in 1970, the Fair and AccurateCredit Transactions Act of 2003 made substantialchanges to the FCRA. Now, the Fair CreditReporting Act addresses not only the accuracy of credit reports, but also offers identity theft protectionand restricts unsolicited marketing of financial products to consumers. Despite these valuablerights, many consumers are not aware of them.
Basic Protections Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
One of the biggest changes to the FCRA in 2003 was that consumers were given the right toreceive one free credit report per year. Prior to this change, credit bureaus were generallypermitted to charge fees when a consumer requested a credit report. A consumer is also permittedto receive a free report if a company denies credit or employment, or offers them a higher interestrate based on information reported by the credit reporting agency. Consumers also have the rightto dispute any inaccurate information with both the reporting agency and the company that providedthe information. The law also addresses identity theft, heightens accuracy requirements, andcomprehensive reinvestigation processes.
Common Fair Credit Reporting Act Violations
Unfortunately, violations of the FCRAcontinueto occur regularly and most consumers are unaware
of these violations until they need their credit report accurate. By then, it is often too late. The mostcommon ways that creditors and credit reporting agencies violate the Fair Credit Reporting Actinclude:• Mixing credit files between people with similar names or differing generations, such as Jr., Sr.and III• Identity theft cases are among the most common violations as the 2003 changes to the lawspecifically addressed how identity theft reports must be handled, yet few creditors or reportingagencies are following these guidelines.• Reporting authorized users as being responsible for accounts as co-debtors• Failing to provide adverse action notices by creditors to consumers prior to reporting negativeinformation to credit reporting agencies• Altering the date of last activity in an effort to keep negative information in a credit report for alonger period of time