Your credit reports maintain a far-reaching influence over many different aspects of your life. The condition of your credit may help determine where you live, how much you pay for housing, your ability to qualify for an auto loan, your insurance premiums, and even your career. Law makers understand the significance of your credit too. As a result the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was crafted to help protect you from unfair credit reporting practices.
Many consumers, especially those who are facing credit problems, would love for credit reports and scores to simply disappear altogether. Unfortunately for those who feel this way, credit is and will continue to be heavily relied upon by a wide variety of industries to assist in their credit granting decisions. Yet although credit is so widely used creditors and the credit reporting agencies (CRAs) are not simply allowed to act as they deem fit whenever it comes credit reporting. The FCRA has strict regulations which govern how creditors and the CRAs are allowed to behave.
The FCRA contains a detailed list which tells creditors and the CRAs what they are and are not allowed to do with your information. Of course the truth is that sometimes, quite often actually, the law gets broken and your rights are violated. Here are some of the most common FCRA violations which occur and some tips on what you can do if your personal rights are ignored.
Reporting Information Which Should Be Purged
Most items on your credit reports have an expiration date. This means that the majority of negative information is not simply allowed to remain on your credit reports forever. Instead the FCRA dictates how long information is allowed to remain on your credit reports.
The exact deadline for deletion varies from item to item, but in most cases derogatory information will be required to be purged from your credit reports after a period of either 7 or 10 years. For example, collection accounts must be purged from your credit reports after 7 years from the date of default on the original account.
Unfortunately for consumers, sometimes creditors and collection agencies violate the FCRA by illegally changing the “purge from” date on an account which is being reported to the CRAs. This action is known in the credit industry as “re-aging.” Re-aging an account causes it to look newer than it actually is and, by extension, potentially harms a consumer’s credit scores to a greater degree and certainly for a longer period of time than is legally allowed. Re-aging is absolutely a violation of the FCRA.
Failing to Correct Incorrect Information
Mistakes on credit reports happen quite often. According to the Federal Trade Commission there are over 40 million mistakes present on the credit reports of US consumers. When errors and incorrect data appear on your credit reports the FCRA gives you the right to dispute those items and to expect a “reasonable investigation” to be performed. Yet sometimes even when you do everything that you are supposed to do to give a creditor and the CRAs the chance to correct credit reporting errors your dispute may be unsuccessful.
Disputing an error does not guarantee that it will be corrected or deleted from your credit reports. If a lender reports incorrect information to the CRAs and fails to correct that incorrect information when you dispute it the failure to correct the error is itself a violation of the FCRA.
Mixed Credit Files
Sometimes the CRAs mess up and will mix the files of 2 different consumers together. For example, a father and son who have similar names (think senior and junior) are common victims of this error. Yet because mixed files occur not due to incorrect data being reported by a creditor but instead due to a mistake made by a CRA itself this particular error can sometimes be more challenging to see corrected. If you dispute mixed file data with a CRA and the CRA fails to correct (aka “un-mix”) your report then that failure to correct could certainly be considered a violation of the FCRA.
What You Can Do When You Think Your Rights Have Been Violated
When errors on credit reports occur you always have the right to try to dispute and correct them on your own. However, many consumers wisely choose to hire a professional credit expert to assist them with the process of correcting erroneous credit information. If you suspect your rights under the FCRA may have been violated give us a call at 800-411-3050. We would love to help reinforce the rights you have already been given.