Credit Bureau Info - The Fair Credit Reporting Act

Some of the most important credit bureau info you will find is the details of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA. Also known as the Fair Credit Billing Act, this piece of legislation provides rules and regulations the credit bureaus must follow to protect consumers from identity theft and to ensure their credit rating is completely correct. It works alongside the Fair Debt Collection Act, both passed in 1970, to form the base consumer credit rights.

Free Credit Reports

The Fair Credit Reporting Act states that all consumers have the right to receive a free credit report from all three major credit bureaus once every 12 months. This can be done online with It requires no credit card number to be entered, no free trial for a credit monitoring service, and provides only the report. The legislation does not require that a person be given their FICO score. The report can also be requested by mail, or by telephone.

A free credit report can also be obtained within 60 days after receiving a denial for credit, by responding to the address shown in the letter sent to your address within 30 days after the initial credit application. This allows you to see why you were denied for credit, along with the accounts that may have played a role in the credit denial.

How Long Information Stays on the Credit Report

The act also defines how long negative information is allowed to stay on a consumers credit report. Late payments, tax liens, bankruptcies, and judgments are all restricted and cannot permanently reside on a credit report. Most delinquent payments are removed from the account seven years from the original date of reporting. Bankruptcies and tax liens may stay on the report for up to 10 years.

Information Furnishers

These are the establishments that provide information to the credit bureaus for reporting purposes. These may be banks, credit card companies, and other finance companies. They must report accurate information, investigate and respond to disputes from consumers about the validity of the negative information, and report to the consumer within 30 days after a negative report has been made to the credit agencies, stating that the report was made.

Who Can Use the Credit Report and For What

A credit report can be used by insurance companies, employers, and for the purpose of extending credit. When a credit report is pulled, the entity looking at the report must notify the consumer of any adverse action taken as a result of that report, and they must also provide the information about the agency used to pull the report so that the customer can then verify the accuracy of the report and place any disputes if necessary.

The full Fair Credit Reporting Act is 49 pages long and made be found in PDF format online from the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC.

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