Federal Credit Laws
The Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1971
(a) Gives you the right to know what information is held about you, without charge, if you have been denied credit within the last 60 days.
(b) You have the right to receive a report of who has seen your credit file for the last six months, and who has seen it for employment purposes for the last two years.
(c) You have the right to have information you dispute verified and corrected or removed if inaccurate or unverifiable, and to have an updated report sent to creditors, who have seen your report in the last six months, with the corrected information.
(d) You have the right to place a 100 word statement, if negative information is verified and not removed, stating your side of the story.
(e) You have the right not to have adverse, negative information on your credit report for more than seven years, ten years with bankruptcy, under the law.
New Legislation - Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act of 1996
Late in 1996, Congress passed amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This legislation was put together by Congressman Joe Kennedy, Charles Schumer, Esteban Torres and Senator Richard Bryan. Several consumer groups were involved as well. (U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Consumers Union, and Bankcard Holders of America). The new bill is called the Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act of 1996. Most of the provisions are effective October 1, 1997. Here is a summary of those new provisions:
(a) Credit bureaus must promptly investigate disputed items, usually within 30 days, and within 5 days after the investigation send the consumer a revised copy of their credit report with corrections. The Credit bureaus must report and share corrections with other bureaus.
(b) Credit bureaus cannot reinsert deleted information unless that information has been certified by the creditor. If the information furnished is certified, the Credit bureau must notify the consumer with the name, address and phone number of the creditor. The Credit bureau must allow the consumer to add an explanatory statement to any remark on the credit report.
(c) Anyone who supplies information to a Credit bureau cannot provide information they consciously know is inaccurate. If a mistake is brought to the attention of a creditor, they must promptly correct it and the correction must be reported to all Credit bureaus. If a Creditor investigates a dispute and finds it correct, they must report it as being disputed by the consumer.
(d) Credit reports are free for those who are unemployed, on public assistance and fraud victims. Credit reports are free if you have been turned down for credit or insurance in the past 60 days based on information in your credit report. A copy of your credit report outside of the previously mentioned circumstances are $8.00.
(e) A creditor must report an account as closed when a consumer closes his account.
(f) If an employer wants to review an employee's credit report, or a prospective employee, they first must get written permission from the person they want to review. If adverse action is taken against the employee because of information obtained from the report, the employer must provide the employee a copy of the credit report and a description of their credit rights.
(g) Consumers who request their report must be shown the full trade name of anyone who has requested their credit report in the past year (two years if inquiry made by employers). If requested the Credit bureau must give the names, addresses and phone numbers of those companies that made an inquiry. Prescreening cannot be shown to anyone but the consumer.
(h) Credit reporting agencies must offer toll-free numbers to anyone wishing to be removed from lists allowing prescreening of their credit report. The bureaus must share requests with other bureaus concerning consumers wanting to be removed from prescreening.
(i) Insurance or credit companies that use prescreening to pre-approve customers must make a FIRM offer of credit to anyone who meets the initial prescreening offer. Unless something has changed since they prescreened your credit, creditors must follow through on a pre-approval offer.
(j) If you have charged off debts the time period of seven years is the maximum time allowed on your credit report. Unlike the past, the reporting period for collection, and profit and loss does not start when the creditor gets around to reporting it, often that was a year later. The reporting period will start 180 days after the payment should have been made.
(k) One of the most interesting provisions is that lenders may show consumers their credit report if they have taken adverse action based on information in the report. This does away with the hide and retreat tactic that a lot of lenders used to use before.
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