Remedies for FCRA Violations

If a credit bureau, creditor, or someone else violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can sue.

By , Attorney Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Updated 4/26/2022

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have a right to the fair and accurate reporting of your credit information. You're also entitled to certain privacy rights concerning your credit information and protection from the misuse of your credit data.

If someone violates your rights under the FCRA, you have some remedies available. Those remedies might include actual damages, punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and costs. The type of remedy will depend on whether the violation was intentional or negligent.

What Is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

The FCRA governs the behavior of consumer reporting agencies, also called "credit bureaus," and the businesses or individuals that report information to the consumer reporting agencies (CRAs). The CRAs compile this information into your credit report. Creditors, landlords, and employers may rely on information in your credit report in making decisions to extend credit to you, give you a job, or rent a home or apartment to you.

The FCRA provides rules about who can access your report, what can be reported and for how long, and what CRAs and information suppliers (also called "furnishers") must do if you dispute information. If a CRA or another entity violates the FCRA, you might suffer harm. For example, inaccurate information in your report could lead a creditor to deny you a car loan or credit card, an employer to refuse to hire you, or a landlord to decide not to rent to you. You could suffer other harm as well.

If an FCRA violation happens, you can sue in court. Here are the remedies that are available.

Damages for a Willful Violation

If you can show that the CRA, information furnisher, or entity using the information willfully violated its obligations under the FCRA, then you may be entitled to recover up to all of the following damages:

-Basic Damages (pick one):

  • actual (provable) damages (no limit), or
  • statutory damages between $100 and $1,000 (to get these you don't have to prove that the violation harmed you).

-If the violator was an individual who lied to get your credit report, or used it for an improper purpose, then the greater of:

  • your actual, provable damages (no limit), or
  • $1,000 flat (no minimum).

-Punitive damages, as decided by the court.

-Attorneys' fees and costs. (15 U.S.C. § 1681n).

Damages for a Negligent Violation

You are also entitled to damages if you can show that the CRA or other entity negligently failed to comply with its obligations under the FCRA. Damages here include:

  • actual damages (no set limit or minimum), and
  • attorneys' fees and costs. (15 U.S.C. § 1681o).

Beware: Penalty for a Frivolous FCRA Lawsuit

The FCRA has a penalty for filing any lawsuit or subsequent court papers that are later determined to have been filed in "bad faith or for purposes of harassment." You (or the defendant) might have to pay the other side's attorney fees if you (or they) file bad faith papers and lose. (15 U.S.C. § 1681n, 15 U.S.C. § 1681o).

When and Where to File a Lawsuit for FCRA Violations

You can file a complaint in either federal court or your state's court, subject to a time limit—called a "statute of limitations." Your suit must be filed no later than the sooner of:

  • two years after the date you discovered the violation, or
  • five years after the date of the violation. (15 U.S.C.A. § 1681p).

Talk to a Lawyer

To learn more about filing a lawsuit for FCRA violations, talk to a consumer protection lawyer or debt settlement lawyer.

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