The Fair Credit Reporting Act (or FCRA), passed in 1970, is a federal statute designed to protect consumers. The FCRA essentially is a federal law that combines common law principles of law defamation and privacy. Ultimately, the purpose of the Fair Credit Reporting Act is to assure that the information credit bureaus publish about you is accurate and is only distributed and used for specific, consumer-related purposes. In sum, the FCRA governs the ways in which credit reporting agencies like Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion can collect, use, and share information that these credit bureaus collect about you in the consumer reports that they publish about you. Sherman & Ticchio serves its clients by helping them enforce their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
So who receives the consumer reports that credit bureaus prepare and publish about you? Generally, your creditors and potential creditors. Banks and other credit card issuers almost always use information obtained from Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion (or one of the many smaller and regional credit bureaus that exist) to obtain your credit history when they make decisions about whether to lend you money (or make lines of credit available to you). So each time you apply for a credit card, or mortgage, or home equity loan, or automobile loan, there is a great chance that the decision about whether to approve you is made by the lender based on one or more consumer reports that are prepared and sold by credit bureaus.
To protect your right to maximum possible accuracy of information on your consumer reports (based on common law defamation principles) and to assure that only people who should see consumer reports about you do see consumer reports about you (based on common law privacy principles), the FCRA lays down the rules of the road for the credit bureaus, the companies that furnish information to credit bureaus, called furnishers, and companies that purchase consumer reports about you, called users.
Your rights under the FCRA are so crucial because your credit history affects everything from your access to the credit markets to the annual percentage rates charged to you by credit card issuers to, in many states, whether potential landlords decide to rent you a home. Also, as is addressed in other posts and articles on our website, the FCRA also governs employment background check reports, protecting you from the consequences of inaccurate background check reporting.
So check your credit reports frequently. Right now, you have free weekly access to your credit reports with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion through annualcreditreport.com. And if you find inaccuracies of any kind, strongly consider seeking advice from an experienced consumer attorney.