FAQ About Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
FAQ About Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
Q. What is a credit report?
A. A “credit report” is a document that normally contains your personal information (name, date of birth, social security number, address, etc) and information about your credit history such as the credit cards you have, the mortgages you have, and whether you have ever been late or been sent to collection.
Q. How do I get a copy of my credit report?
A. The easiest way is to go to https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp and fill out the online request for Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union.
Or you can call the toll free number of 1-877-322-8228.
Q. Why is it important to get a copy of my credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union?
A. So many people and businesses judge us by what is on our credit reports. Obviously creditors do this – will they make us a loan or not make us a loan?
Apartment complexes also look at credit reports to decide whether or not to lease an apartment to us.
Even our jobs can look at our credit reports to see if we should be hired, promoted, or keep our security clearances.
As one person described them, credit reports are the only report cards that matter for us as adults.
Q. Don’t the credit reporting agencies only keep accurate information on our credit reports?
A. You have a right to have accurate credit reports.
Most experts agree that very hight number of credit reports have errors in the reports.
Sometimes these are minor errors but other times these are major errors that can seriously impact our ability to obtain credit or employment.
We are also seeing a huge problem with identity theft and mixed files.
Q. What is identity theft?
A. Identity theft is where some other person (ex spouse, neighbor, or anyone) opens an account in your name without your knowledge or consent.
They have stolen your identity. This new account will then show up on your credit reports and if it is not paid (and most thieves won’t pay it – they are thieves!) then you may have to deal with debt collectors or deal with being sued over this account.
It is sad that many well meaning consumers spend years trying to fix this when it can be fixed pretty quickly by following the rules of the FCRA.
Either it gets fixed when you dispute or we fix it when we sue the credit reporting agencies and whoever else is responsible.
Q. What is a “mixed account?”
A. A mixed account or mixed filed or mis-merged file is where your information and someone else’s information (usually with similar name and social security number) have become “mixed” or combined so some of that person’s information is showing up on your credit reports.
We use the FCRA to fix this problem so that the wrong information will be removed from your reports.
Q. I have an error on my credit report, who do I contact?
A. While it is ok to contact the creditor or furnisher, you must contact the credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union) to dispute the false information.
While you can dispute it online or by phone, we strongly urge you to only dispute it in writing by certified mail.
Too many consumers have disputed it online or not by certified mail only to find that their disputes were ignored because the credit reporting agencies knew it could not be proven that they received the dispute.
Q. Why do I need to dispute directly through the credit reporting agencies?
A. If you don’t dispute directly through the credit reporting agencies then under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) there is no obligation on the part of the furnisher to correct false information.
At least not an obligation that you can sue for as the duty to correct is only triggered by the furnisher getting notice of a dispute directly from the credit reporting agencies.
We think this is silly but it is the law so make sure you dispute directly through the agencies.
Q. If the credit reporting agencies will NOT fix the problem, what can I do?
A. You can dispute it again – maybe the second time will be the charm or they may refuse to consider the second dispute or you can put in a statement on your report about how you disagree.
We have found the statements to be worthless.
The best option is normally to sue the credit reporting agencies and whichever company furnished the false information (creditor, debt collector, etc) under the FCRA and state law.
Q. What is the charge to meet with you?
A. We don’t charge to meet with you.
If we represent you then our fee is a contingent fee – we have several options that we will be happy to discuss with you.
Q. OK, I want to discuss this with you. What do I do?
A. It’s simple. Call us at 205-879-2447 or you can also fill out our “contact us” form.