March 25, 2009


On a nearly daily basis, agencies (such as current and potential lenders, insurance companies, landlords, and employers) are viewing your credit report(s) when making decisions about you. The number of entities that rely on credit as a primary source of assessing "trust" are increasing on a regular basis. How familiar are you with your credit and your rights? The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) are the current legislation designed to protect you and your credit.

Designed to promote accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of every consumer's credit report.

Major FCRA Provisions:
• You are entitled to a free report at any time if:
- You are unemployed and plan to seek employment within 60 days; Are currently on welfare; Are a fraud victim; Have been denied credit, employment, or insurance based on report information.
- You are entitled to one free report per year (from each bureau).

• Outdated negative information may not be reported:
- 2 years for inquiries
- 7 years for “most” negative information
- 10 years for judgment liens and most bankruptcies
- 10 years [or more] for “positive” information
• Access to your file is limited (i.e., application considerations):
- Employment, Insurance, Credit, Landlord, etc.…
• You must be told if information in your file has been used against you:
- Denial of employment, credit, insurance
• You have a right to know what is in your file
• You have a right to dispute inaccurate information
• Inaccurate or unverifiable information must be corrected or deleted
• Forces identification of individuals inspecting your file
• Requires consumer consent for reports provided to employers
• You may seek damages if your FCRA rights have been violated
• You may limit the ‘pre-approved’ offers received for credit and insurance. You may opt out by calling toll free (1-888-5-OPTOUT). Additional information is available at the 'opt out' blog post. Maintaining the accuracy of your credit report is YOUR responsibility. The entire FCRA is available at:

Signed into law by Pres. Bush in December of 2003, the Fact Act [as it’s often called] was designed to ensure that all citizens are treated fairly when applying for credit. Specifically, the bill was designed to increase consumer protections against the growing problem of identity theft. FACTA also extends the current provisions (mentioned above) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Major FACTA Provisions:
• Provide consumers with a free credit report every year (see above).
• Give consumers the right to see their credit scores (for a fee).
• Restrict access to consumers' sensitive health information.
• Allow consumers to place "fraud alerts" in their credit reports to prevent identity thieves from opening accounts in their names (includes special provisions to active duty military).
• Provide consumers with one-call-for-all protection by requiring credit bureaus to share consumer calls on identity theft, including requested fraud alert blocking.
• Allow consumers to block information from being given to a credit bureau and from being reported by a bureau if such information results from identity theft.
• Require creditors to take certain precautions before extending credit to consumers who have placed "fraud alerts" in their files.
• Ensure that consumers are notified if merchants are going to report negative information to the credit bureaus about them.
• Stop merchants from printing more than the last five digits of a payment card on an electronic receipt.

Consumer credit is such a vital part of 'consumer life' – the ability to have protections in place to help consumers safeguard the credit they have worked so hard to build and maintain is critical. Know Your Rights!