The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law in the United States that regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer credit information. It was enacted in 1970 and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FCRA aims to protect consumers from inaccurate or incomplete credit information and to ensure that credit reporting agencies (CRAs) maintain accurate and confidential records. It also gives consumers the right to access their credit reports and to dispute any errors they find. Additionally, it also gives consumers the right to know when their credit reports are being used against them, such as for employment or insurance decisions.
Who is under the Jurisdiction of this Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) applies to consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) and users of consumer reports.
CRAs are defined as any person that, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties. Examples of CRAs include Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Users of consumer reports are defined as any person who uses a consumer report in whole or in part for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing the consumer’s eligibility for credit or insurance to be used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes; employment purposes; or any other purpose authorized under FCRA. Examples of users of consumer reports include banks, landlords, employers, and insurance companies.
So the FCRA applies to any company that gathers or uses consumer credit information, and also to the consumers themselves.
Does the Act protect a consumer’s credit score from being shared?
A consumer’s credit score is not protected by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) alone. The FCRA regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer credit information, including credit scores, but it does not specifically protect credit scores.
However, the FCRA does require that consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) maintain accurate and confidential records, and it gives consumers the right to access their credit reports and to dispute any errors they find. So if a consumer’s credit score is inaccurate, it would be covered under the FCRA.
Additionally, the FCRA also requires that CRAs and users of consumer reports follow certain procedures when using credit scores. For example, users of consumer reports must provide a notice to consumers when a credit score is used as a factor in denying credit or taking other adverse action.
In summary, the FCRA does not protect a consumer’s credit score as a standalone item, but it does protect the accuracy and confidentiality of credit reports, and also regulates the use of credit scores.
Consumers rights under the FCRA
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives consumers several rights when it comes to their credit information. These rights include:
- The right to a free credit report: Consumers are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). They can request their report at www.annualcreditreport.com
- The right to dispute inaccurate information: If a consumer finds errors in their credit report, they have the right to dispute those errors with the credit reporting agency and the company that provided the information. The CRA must investigate the dispute and correct any inaccurate information.
- The right to know when credit reports are used against them: Consumers have the right to be notified if an adverse action is taken against them as a result of information in their credit report. This includes being denied credit, insurance, or employment. The notice must include the name, address, and phone number of the CRA that provided the report.
- The right to opt-out of pre-approved credit offers: Consumers can opt-out of receiving pre-approved credit offers by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or visiting www.optoutprescreen.com
- The right to place a security freeze on your credit report: A security freeze is a way to restrict access to your credit report, which in turn makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. You can place, temporarily lift, or permanently remove a security freeze on your credit report.
- The right to sue for damages: Consumers have the right to sue for damages if a credit reporting agency or user of credit reports violates their rights under the FCRA.
- The right to seek damages for identity theft: Consumers who are victims of identity theft have the right to sue for damages if a credit reporting agency or user of credit reports fails to comply with the FCRA’s requirements in connection with a credit report relating to the consumer resulting from identity theft.
It’s important to note that these rights are not absolute and have some limits, but the FCRA provides a good framework for consumers to protect and understand their credit information.