At the Consumer Law Group, our attorneys often get calls from people who misunderstand what is and isn't covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). There are many things about your credit report that may concern you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a violation of your rights or something that you need an attorney to help you solve. Although we often focus on what is a violation of your rights, here are some important things you should understand about what isn’t illegal under the FCRA.
Common Misunderstandings About How the FCRA Works
While many Americans are completely unaware of their rights as consumers, there are also many people who misread, misunderstand, or believe myths about the law. There is a limit to the consumer protections provided by the FCRA, and not everything is necessarily covered. To help you gain a better understanding of how these protections work, here are four common myths we hear about credit reports and the FCRA:
- MYTH: “Unreported debt on credit reports is illegal.” The most common thing our attorneys hear from consumers is they are not seeing a particular debt showing on their credit report. In some cases, people want these debts to show because they want their credit score to reflect the debt they're repaying. However, this unreported debt is not illegal.
- MYTH: “All your credit reports have exactly the same information.” The three main credit reporting agencies at the national level don’t always get their information from the same places, so there can be some variance in what shows on your credit report and in how much detail. If the information isn’t inaccurate or incorrect, small differences in what is reported probably aren’t illegal. If you’re worried about it, you may be able to write a letter and request that the information be added.
- MYTH: “You have to give your permission to access your credit report.” The truth is that the FCRA may allow access to your credit information without your express permission, but only in very specific circumstances for parties with a legitimate need to access it. This might include access for utility applications, subpoenas, credit applications, child support enforcement, and other legitimate requests. Some parties, like employers, can access your credit report only with your written permission. While you don’t need to worry about friends and family peeking at your report for fun, you also may not necessarily always be informed that someone has accessed your information. Luckily, you can see who has accessed your credit report recently by looking at the “inquiries” sections of the report itself. If your credit report is accessed illegally, you may be able to take legal action for the violation of your rights.
- MYTH: “All credit information “disappears” after seven years.” While a lot of information that appears on your credit report only stays on the report for seven years, there is some information that sticks around a little longer. For example, some bankruptcies may be visible for ten years, as well some accounts in good standing that have been closed.
While you may not be able to take legal action to resolve some issues, don’t overlook the problems that you can solve. If you have a problem with your credit report and you’re unsure how to resolve it, it’s very important that you start researching your rights and looking for answers that you understand.
Reaching Out for Help When There Are Problems With Your Credit Report
The laws that protect consumers in the United States can be very complex, and it’s not unusual for people to misunderstand their rights. If you believe your rights may have been violated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can reach out to our skilled team of consumer advocacy attorneys today at 804-282-7900 for more information and help investigating your concerns.