The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that regulates the consumer reporting (sometimes referred to as background reporting) industry. It imposes obligations on the companies that create consumer reports, the companies that use consumer reports, and the companies that supply information used in consumer reports. While many believe that the FCRA merely covers credit reports, they often are surprised to find out that it covers many different types of reports, including background reports obtained by a prospective employer.
Critically, the FCRA is a consumer protection statute. Its purpose is to protect the privacy and personal information of consumers by requiring that consumer reports contain accurate and up-to-date information, and that they are only used for certain permissible purposes.
Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
As a consumer-protection statute, the FCRA provides you with several rights, including:
You have the right to know what is in your file. You are entitled to obtain all the information about you in the files of a consumer reporting agency. Oftentimes this disclosure will be free.
- You have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information. If you dispute inaccurate or incomplete information, the consumer reporting agency must investigate and remove any inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information in their files.
- You must be told if information in your file has been used against you. Anyone who uses a consumer report to deny you credit, insurance, employment – or take another adverse action against you – must tell you, and must give you the name, address, and phone number of the agency that provided the information
- Consumer reporting agencies may provide information about you only to people with a permissible purpose, usually to consider an application for credit, insurance, employment, housing rental, or other business purposes.
- You may opt-out of “prescreened” offers of credit and insurance you get based on information in your credit report.
These are just a few of the rights the FCRA affords consumers. If you believe your rights have been violated, or if you have questions about a background report issue, the FCRA attorneys at Weiner & Sand LLC are here to help.