Para informacion en espanol, visite www.ftc.gov/credit o escribe a la FTC Consumer Response Center, Room 130-A 600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies. There are many types of consumer reporting agencies, including credit bureaus and specialty agencies (such as agencies that sell information about check writing histories, medical records, and rental history records). Here is a summary of your major rights under the FCRA. For more information, including information about additional rights, go to www.ftc.gov/credit or write to: Consumer Response Center, Room 130-A, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
- You must be told if information in your file has been used against you. Anyone who uses a credit report or another type of consumer report to deny your application for credit, insurance, or employment – or to take another adverse action against you – must tell you, and must give you the name, address, and phone number of the agency that provided the information.
- You have the right to know what is in your file. You may request and obtain all the information about you in the files of a consumer reporting agency (your “file disclosure”). You will be required to provide proper identification, which may include your Social Security number. In many cases, the disclosure will be free. You are entitled to a free file disclosure if:
- a person has taken adverse action against you because of information in your credit report;
- you are the victim of identify theft and place a fraud alert in your file;
- your file contains inaccurate information as a result of fraud;
- you are on public assistance;
- you are unemployed but expect to apply for employment within 60 days. In addition, by September 2005 all consumers will be entitled to one free disclosure every 12months upon request from each nationwide credit bureau and from nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies. See www.ftc.gov/credit for additional information.
- You have the right to ask for a credit score. Credit scores are numerical summaries of your credit-worthiness based on information from credit bureaus. You may request a credit score from consumer reporting agencies that create scores or distribute scores used in residential real property loans, but you will have to pay for it. In some mortgage transactions, you will receive credit score information for free from the mortgage lender.
- Y You have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information. If you identify information in your file that is incomplete or inaccurate, and report it to the consumer reporting agency, the agency must investigate unless your dispute is frivolous. See www.ftc.gov/credit for an explanation of dispute procedures.
- Consumer reporting agencies must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information. Inaccurate, incomplete or unverifiable information must be removed or corrected, usually within 30 days. However, a consumer reporting agency may continue to report information it has verified as accurate.
- Consumer reporting agencies may not report outdated negative information. In most cases, a consumer reporting agency may not report negative information that is more than seven years old, or bankruptcies that are more than 10 years old.
- Access to your file is limited. A consumer reporting agency may provide information about you only to people with a valid need — usually to consider an application with a creditor, insurer, employer, landlord, or other business. The FCRA specifies those with a valid need for access.
- You must give your consent for reports to be provided to employers. A consumer reporting agency may not give out information about you to your employer, or a potential employer, without your written consent given to the employer. Written consent generally is not required in the trucking industry. For more information, go to www.ftc.gov/credit .
- Y You may limit “prescreened” offers of credit and insurance you get based on information in your credit report. Unsolicited “prescreened” offers for credit and insurance must include a toll-free phone number you can call if you choose to remove your name and address from the lists these offers are based on. You may opt-out with the nationwide credit bureaus at 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688).
- You may seek damages from violators. If a consumer reporting agency, or, in some cases, a user of consumer reports or a furnisher of information to a consumer reporting agency violates the FCRA, you may be able to sue in state or federal court.
- Identity theft victims and active duty military personnel have additional rights. For more information, visit www.ftc.gov/credit .
States may enforce the FCRA, and many states have their own consumer reporting laws. In some cases, you may have more rights under state law. For more information, contact your state or local consumer protection agency or your state Attorney General. Federal enforcers are:
|TYPE OF BUSINESS:||CONTACT:|
|Consumer reporting agencies, creditors and others not listed below||Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Response Center – FCRA Washington, DC 20580 1-877-382-4357|
|National banks, federal branches/agencies of foreign banks (word “National” or initials “N.A.” appear in or after bank’s name)||Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Compliance Management, Mail Stop 6-6 Washington, DC 20219 800-613-6743|
|Federal Reserve System member banks (except national banks, and federal branches/agencies of foreign banks)||Federal Reserve Board Division of Consumer & Community Affairs Washington, DC 20551 202-452-3693|
|Savings associations and federally chartered savings banks (word “Federal” or initials “F.S.B.” appear in federal institution’s name)||Office of Thrift Supervision Consumer Complaints Washington, DC 20552 800-842-6929|
|Federal credit unions (words “Federal Credit Union” appear in institution’s name)||National Credit Union Administration 1775 Duke Street Alexandria, VA 22314 703-519-4600|
|State-chartered banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve System||Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Consumer Response Center, 2345 Grand Avenue, Suite 100 Kansas City, Missouri 64108-2638 1-877-275-3342|
|Air, surface, or rail common carriers regulated by former Civil Aeronautics Board or Interstate Commerce Commission||Department of Transportation, Office of Financial Management Washington, DC 20590 202-366-1306|
|Activities subject to the Packers and Stockyards Act, 1921||Department of Agriculture Office of Deputy Administrator – GIPSA Washington, DC 20250 202-720-7051|
Common Errors on Credit Reports
It is estimated that a majority of credit reports belonging to people who have filed for bankruptcy contain errors. Even if you haven’t filed for Bankruptcy, your credit report may contain errors. Many of these errors can make it difficult or expensive to obtain credit in the future.
If you are going to receive the fresh start your Bankruptcy discharge is supposed to provide you with, you need to make sure that all of your debts are properly reported on your credit reports.
Errors common on any credit report, even if you have never filed for Bankruptcy, include (among others):
- Inaccurate reporting of the delinquency date or date of last activity;
- Reporting a debt that is too old to be reported;
- Inaccurate payment history;
- Inaccurate balances, collection activity, or total available credit; and
- Unauthorized inquiries.
These errors will all affect your ability to get credit or the interest rate you will pay.
If you have filed for Bankruptcy the chances that your credit report will contain errors increase. In addition to the usual possible errors, you should be alert to errors that limit the value of your Bankruptcy Discharge. These only apply to debts included in your Bankruptcy discharge.
These include (among others):
- Continuing to report a balance due;
- Reporting a delinquency date or date of last activity after your Bankruptcy filing;
- Reporting a Bankruptcy filing on credit report of a spouse who did not file for Bankruptcy
- Reporting a discharged debt as “charged off”;
- Not reporting a payment history for loans you reaffirmed;
- Inaccurate date reported for the Bankruptcy filing;
- Incorrect chapter filed; and
- Incorrect plan payment amount or percentage paid in Chapter 13 cases.
You Can Fix This
Federal law establishes certain procedures for correcting errors on your credit report. At the bottom of your credit report should be instructions, written in plain English, explaining to you how to dispute errors on that report.
It is important that you dispute all errors with the credit reporting agency that issued the report. You should explain what is wrong with the information reported, identify the account you are complaining about and attach copies of any supporting documentation if you have it. I suggest that you do this in writing and keep a copy of the letter. You may also want to send the letter certified mail, return receipt requested.
If the first letter does not produce the desired result, try again. If the second letter does not clear up the problem, you may wish to contact legal counsel. In certain circumstances you can sue if necessary to remove incorrect information from your credit report.
Remember, you can request removal or correction of inaccurate or incorrect information. However, if the information in the report is correct and in compliance with the law, you may not legally require its removal.
LIPTAK LAW OFFICES, Iowa Bankruptcy Attorney Robert J. Liptak and all associates are debt relief agents. We help people and businesses relieve their debt and file for Chapter 7, Chapter 12 (Farming & Fishing Business Operations), Chapter 11 (Reorganization) and Chapter 13 relief under the Bankruptcy Code.