Know Your Credit Rights

There are four major laws or “Acts” that protect your credit history and information on your credit report. Here is an abbreviated breakdown of each.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

This Act basically requires credit reporting agencies and data providers to rectify any mistakes on your credit report and prevent anyone who shouldn’t have access to your credit information from getting it. Here are some other things the Fair Credit Reporting Act does to help protect your credit information:

  • It gives you the right to receive a free credit report every year
  • Only authorized individuals can access your credit report
  • You can act against errors on your credit report
  • There are time limits on negative information on your credit report
  • You have a right to know if a creditor or potential employer denied you because of your report
  • You can put a fraud alert on your report if you think you are in danger of identity theft or fraud

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

This Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prevents abusive, dishonest or deceptive practices when debt collectors are trying to collect from you. The Act covers credit card debt, auto loans, medical bill debt and mortgages. It prevents debt collectors from calling you at all hours of the night, and provides you with a list of things a debt collector is not allowed to do, such as lie when they are trying to collect a debt.

Fair Credit Billing Act

The Fair Credit Billing Act gives consumers the right to dispute fraudulent and unfair credit charges. The Act states that if someone charged something on your card without your permission your monetary responsibility is limited to $50. You do not have to pay for things you did not accept, were not transferred as agreed, or promised. You must be given a credit by a creditor for returned items, and bills must be sent to your current address by creditors. Also, the Act explains how to dispute a billing error – you have to write a letter to the creditor and keep copies of everything.

Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003

The Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 is an amendment to The Fair Credit Reporting Act. It also states that you are allowed a free copy of your credit report each year from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion). This act also adds provisions to help reduce identity theft and requires secure disposal of consumer information.