Your credit report is a foundational document. As a profile of your financial responsibility and creditworthiness, it effectively serves as a “report card” that can open or close doors to financial opportunities. Businesses, banks, mortgage companies and other lenders will rely on your credit report when offering (or declining) certain financial services.
You Have Important Legal Protections
Because credit reports have such a far-reaching impact on financial matters, Congress enacted the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in 1970 to safeguard consumers like you. This complex law gives you numerous important protections. For example:
- You have the right to review your credit report. Without access to your credit report, it is impossible to identify and fix errors. The three major credit reporting agencies must provide you with a free copy of your report once every 12 months. All you have to do is ask.
- You have the right to dispute inaccuracies and unverified information in your credit report. You shouldn’t have to suffer negative consequences as a result of errors in your credit report. Federal law gives you the right to dispute not only inaccuracies, but also any information that cannot be objectively verified. From a practical standpoint, however, successfully pursuing a dispute can be difficult. At Patton Knipp & Dean, our lawyers can step in and work on your behalf to clean up any information that should not be there. We are not afraid to stand up to large credit reporting agencies.
- You have the right to dispute out-of-date information in your credit report. Financial missteps in the past will not haunt you forever. Negative credit information must be removed from your report after a certain amount of time. If the reporting agency fails to comply with this important protection, you may file a dispute.
- Only those with a legitimate purpose can access your credit report. Your credit report contains detailed personal information about your financial history, employment and other sensitive matters. In the wrong hands, this information can lead to identity theft. Fortunately, the law restricts who can access your credit report, and under what circumstances.