Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Legal Responsibilities of Credit Reporting Agencies

Legal Responsibilities of Credit Reporting Agencies

The Fair Credit Reporting Act protects the privacy and accuracy of the information contained within your credit report. Credit reporting agencies maintain records regarding your address, payment history, loans, credit cards, public records and many other personal documents. These agencies are legally obligated to report accurate information about you as well as inform you if the information within your report has been used against you.

Access to Your Credit File

    Credit reporting agencies are legally responsible for keeping the contents of your credit file confidential. They may not release information about your file without your written consent. Credit reporting agencies must also inform you if the information within your credit file has negatively impacted your ability to obtain credit or employment. Agencies must disclose the contents of your credit file to you whenever you request. Further, you always have the right to know the contents of your file, especially if you suspect it contains inaccurate information.

Inaccuracies in Your Credit File

    Credit reporting agencies must investigate incomplete or inaccurate information in your file upon your request. You must first file a dispute for the information you feel is incorrect and wait for the agency to conduct an investigation. According to the Federal Trade Commission, credit reporting agencies are required to "delete inaccurate, incomplete or unverifiable information" within 30 days of your dispute.

Credit Score Information

    The information contained in your credit file is measurable based on your payment history, credit references and the amount of your available credit. This information is measured by a credit score. The higher the credit score, the better your credit-worthiness. Credit reporting agencies are required to provide you with your credit score if you request it, but there will be a charge.

Outdated Negative Information

    Credit reporting agencies are responsible for keeping the information in your credit file up-to-date. This means that potentially negative items may only be reported for a specified amount of time. According to Experian, "negative information such as missed payments and most public record items, remain on a personal credit report for seven years." Bankruptcy information is reported for 10 years while unpaid tax liens are reported for 15 years. You may request that a credit reporting agency remove outdated negative information from your file.

Identity Theft

    If you inform a credit reporting agency that you may be a victim of identity theft, the agency is obligated to place a fraud alert on your file per your request. You may receive copies of your credit file after the fraud alert has been placed on your report. Consumer reporting agencies must follow certain procedures for protecting the information within your file as well as block potential creditors from obtaining your file.


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