The United States Congress has acknowledged the importance of accurate credit reporting. Indeed, your credit score determines your eligibility for a bevy of benefits. Your credit score is determined by what information is provided to Consumer Reporting Agencies (“CRAs”). As such, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) was enacted to hold the CRAs accountable. The FCRA sets forth the proper method the CRAs are obligated to handle your credit information – it’s primary goal is to guard the privacy and integrity of that information. Specifically, the FCRA requires CRAs, and companies who provide the underlying credit information to the CRAs (also known as “furnishers”), to ensure that the information is fair, accurate, and private. Further, the FCRA provides individuals with an avenue to correct inaccuracies, and in the event the inaccuracies are not corrected, the FCRA allows individuals to recover damages from furnishers and CRAs.
What is a Consumer Reporting Agency?
A Consumer Reporting Agency (“CRA”) is an entity that acquires and furnishers information pertaining to your general credit. The major CRAs are Equifax, Transunion, and Experian; however, there are many other entities that qualify as a CRA. In general, many entities that collect and/or sell your information (this frequently occurs when companies provide services pertaining to background checks) qualify as CRAs under the FCRA.
What Are Consumer Reporting Agencies Obligated to Do?
- CRAs are required to provide individuals with all the information they possess about that individual (often referred to as a “file disclosure”), upon that individual’s request.
- CRAs are also required to provide an individual their credit score upon request for a small fee.
- CRAs are required to adequately investigate any credit information reporting on an individual’s credit file, upon dispute.
- CRAs are further required to correct or delete incomplete, unverifiable, or inaccurate information within thirty (30) days of receiving an individual’s notice of dispute.
- CRAs are prohibited from disclosing your credit information to third parties, unless there is a “valid need” or permissible purpose. Typically, these disclosures are given to to potential creditors, employers, and landlords.
What is A “Furnisher”
An “information supplier”, which is also known as a “furnisher”, is an entity that provides the underlying credit information to the CRAs. In many cases, this is the entity asserting that an individual owes them a debt, but it is broad enough to include third parties that have a tangential credit relationship with an individual.
What is Are Furnisher Obligated to Do?
- Furnishers are prohibited from reporting information that it knows, or has reasonable cause to know, is inaccurate to a CRA.
- Furnishers have an affirmative duty to correct and update any information that is incomplete or inaccurate that is previously provided to a CRA.
- Furnishers are required to inform an individual of any negative information it provides a CRA within thirty (30) days of providing that information.
- Furnishers are obligated to maintain reasonable procedures to monitor the potential of identity theft and are prohibited from reporting credit information about an individual that was a result of identity theft.
- Furnishers must also notify CRAs when an individual freely and voluntarily closes an account with them.
What Are the Remedies For a Violation of the FCRA?
If a CRA or furnisher violates any of your FCRA rights, you may be able to recover damages in state or federal court. C.O. LAW, APC has extensively pursued FCRA claims, and has the experience and skill to successfully advocate for your rights. For more information, contact C.O. LAW, APC for a free consultation.