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How to Protect Your Credit: Fair Credit Reporting Act Summary of Rights

January 30th, 2018 9:27 AM by Jackie A. Graves, President

What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law enacted in 1970 (and updated in the late-1990s and early-2000s) to protect consumers from their credit information being used improperly.

At the time it became law, FCRA was enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but enforcement has since been transferred to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency created in July 2011 in response to the 2007-2008 financial crisis. It consolidates all the government’s consumer-facing financial protection agencies under one umbrella.

The most consumer-relevant component of this broad law is the FCRA Summary of Rights, which outlines credit protections that FCRA provides to consumers.

What are the FCRA Summary of Rights?

The FCRA Summary of Rights protects consumers from adverse actions as a result of your credit history that can be associated with credit reporting agencies, employers, mortgage lenders, insurers or other institutions. The FCRA Summary of Rights offers the following protections related to mortgage lending:

  1. You must be told if your credit history has been used against you.
    If a lender uses a credit report to make a decision to deny your loan, the lender must tell you, and must give you the name, address, and phone number of the agency that provided the credit information. All lenders run credit histories and scores from the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian — so a standard lender disclosure under FCRA will provide you with information on how to contact each of these entities.
  1. You can ask for your credit score.
    Your mortgage lender will disclose your credit score to you when you complete a formal application, including providing your lender with your name, address, and social security number so it can run a credit report on you. Your lender can then disclose your score to you. It’s critical to note that lenders aren’t required to disclose your entire credit report to you, but a different provision of FCRA — called the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), which was added to FCRA in 2003 — mandates that you’re allowed to get a free credit report every year through AnnualCreditReport.com. This free report has your full credit history but doesn’t have your credit score. For specific details on this, read the FACTA free credit report overview.
  1. You can dispute incomplete, inaccurate or outdated information.
    If you identify information in your file that is incomplete, inaccurate or outdated, report it to the consumer reporting agency. The agency must investigate, unless your dispute is frivolous. Visit the CFPB’s Learn More site for dispute procedures. When you dispute, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, unverifiable or outdated information. Once they’ve verified information you’re disputing is inaccurate, incomplete or unverifiable, they must correct it or remove it from your report, usually within 30 days. Also, 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.
  1. You can request that your name be removed from marketing lists.
    Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and other consumer reporting agencies can provide lists of consumer names and addresses whose credit information matches the requirements of lenders and insurers for making their own marketing lists. However, you can request that Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion not share your information with creditors and insurers for these purposes by calling 888-5-OPT OUT. You can also ask your specific mortgage lender to remove you from any of their own proprietary marketing lists.

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