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Fair Credit Reporting Act Violations & Your Right to a Fresh Start
Many consumers do not understand the basic rights afforded them under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In fact, an overwhelming majority of consumers have never even checked their credit report. Whether you are considering filing bankruptcy, have already filed, or received your bankruptcy discharge, it is essential to check your credit report. Inaccurate and negative reporting can impede your fresh start.
What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act and What Are My Rights?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal statute enacted in 1970 that regulates the collection and use of consumer credit information by credit reporting agencies. The FCRA establishes remedies for consumers negatively affected by inaccurate reporting. Under FCRA:
You have a right to be informed about your credit history and how it is used.
You have a right to obtain your credit report annually for free.
You have a right to dispute inaccurate information that appears on your report.
You have a right to privacy regarding the use of your credit history.
1. Your Right To Be Informed About Your Credit
Potential lenders, employers, insurers, and other major entities make decisions constantly based on your credit history. You have a right to know who is using your credit history and why. This is especially important when your credit history is used to render denials and other negative decisions.
2. Your Right To A Free Annual Credit Report
In order to enforce your right to be informed, consumers are legally entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, & Equifax). Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to order your free credit reports. You may also order by phone (877.322.8228) or by mail by completing the Annual Credit Report Request Form (Open PDF Form).
*TIP: You are never required to pay or register for a service to obtain this FREE copy of your report. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
3. Your Right to Dispute Inaccurate Credit Information
You are entitled to an accurate reflection of your credit history. Errors on your report are correctable. Credit reporting agencies must have simple procedures for disputing inaccuracies. Typically, you may send a simple letter to dispute the inaccuracies to each of the three major credit reporting agencies. In the letter, you want to include specific information about each inaccurate item along with the reasons why each is inaccurate.
If they do not remove those inaccuracies post-discharge you may be entitled to recover for any actual damages you suffered, $1000 for any willful noncompliance with the FCRA, plus reasonable attorney fees. This means you can hire an attorney to insure your credit report accurately reflects your fresh start at no additional charge to you.
4. Your Right to Privacy and Fair Use of Your Credit
Credit reporting agencies may not disclose your credit information to just anyone. Your credit report contains private and sensitive information about your personal life and financial status. Any person who accesses your credit history must have a valid reason to do so.
Your Right to a Fresh Start After Receiving Your Bankruptcy Discharge
The main purpose of filing for bankruptcy is to obtain a fresh financial start free from overwhelming debt. Once you receive your bankruptcy discharge, your creditors MUST report your discharged debts with a ZERO BALANCE.
Unfortunately, creditors often continue to inaccurately report debts as seriously past due and with significant balances. This unfair practice has a much more negative impact on your credit score than correctly reporting the debt as discharged through bankruptcy. Your fresh start may be threatened if your discharged debt is not accurately reported.
Transactions involving credit are common and occur frequently. An inaccurate credit report left unchecked can wreak havoc on your personal and financial well-being and peace of mind. You may be unable to purchase a home or vehicle, denied new credit, charged excessive interest rates, denied a job opportunity, or even denied insurance.
My FCRA Rights Were Violated, What Should I Do?
If you believe your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act have been violated, take action now and schedule a free consultation with a uniquely qualified attorney at the Law Offices of Matthew Foley.
If we assisted you in your bankruptcy and/or you have received your discharge and you believe your FCRA rights have been violated post-discharge, contact our office to schedule a review of your case.
- Obtain FREE copies of your credit report from all 3 major credit reporting agencies
- Thoroughly review your reports
- Highlight or circle ANY and ALL inaccurate information. For any debts discharged in your bankruptcy, this may include any late, overdue, or otherwise negative information occurring on your report after the date your bankruptcy petition was filed.
- Make copies of your marked up reports for us to review
- Schedule a FREE consultation with a uniquely qualified debt attorney for us to discuss your case!
What Will This Cost Me?
Nothing. You may be entitled to recover for any actual damages you suffered, $1000 for any willful noncompliance with the FCRA, plus reasonable attorney fees. This means you can hire an attorney to insure your credit report accurately reflects your fresh start at no additional charge to you. The law requires that the offending party, typically the reporting agencies, pay any legal fees incurred to fix your report. You are entitled to this relief so that you may focus on building your life and credit back up!
*It costs nothing to remedy your report, but you will gain substantial peace of mind and receive the full relief of your fresh start.