The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is designed to help ensure that CRAs furnish correct and complete information to businesses to use when evaluating your application.
- You cannot be denied credit based on your race, sex, marital status, religion, age, national origin, or receipt of public assistance.
- You have the right to have reliable public assistance considered in the same manner as other income.
- If you are denied credit, you have a legal right to know why.
- charges or electronic fund transfers that you — or anyone you have authorized to use your account — have not made;
- charges or electronic fund transfers that are incorrectly identified or show the wrong amount or date;
- computation or similar errors;
- failure to reflect payments, credits, or electronic fund transfers properly;
- not mailing or delivering credit billing statements to your current address, as long as that address was received by the creditor in writing at least 20 days before the billing period ended;
- charges or electronic fund transfers for which you request an explanation or documentation, due to a possible error.
- Debt collectors may contact you only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
- Debt collectors may not contact you at work if they know your employer disapproves.
- Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you.
- Debt collectors may not lie when collecting debts, such as falsely implying that you have committed a crime.
- Debt collectors must identify themselves to you on the phone.
- Debt collectors must stop contacting you if you ask them to in writing.
Solving Your Credit Problems
Your credit report influences your purchasing power, as well as your chances to get a job, rent or buy an apartment or a house, and buy insurance. A history of timely credit payments helps you get additional credit. Accurate negative information can stay on your report for seven years. A bankruptcy can stay on your report for 10 years. If you are having problems paying your bills, contact your creditors at once. Try to work out a modified payment plan with them that reduces your payments to a more manageable level. Don't wait until your account has been turned over to a debt collector.
- If you want to contest a credit report, bill or credit denial, contact the appropriate company in writing and send it "return receipt requested."
- When you contest a billing error, include your name, account number, the dollar amount in question, and the reason you believe the bill is wrong.
- If in doubt, request written verification of a debt.
- Keep all your original documents, especially receipts, sales slips, and billing statements. You will need them if you dispute a credit bill or report. Send copies only. It may take more than one letter to correct problems.
- Be skeptical of businesses that offer instant solutions to credit problems.
- Be persistent. Resolving credit problems can take time and effort.
- There is nothing that a credit repair company can do for you — for a fee — that you cannot do for yourself for little or no cost.