The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 U.S.C. § 1681 and following) is a federal law that governs how a credit reporting agency (CRA) handles your credit information. It's designed to protect the integrity and privacy of your credit information. The FCRA requires credit reporting agencies—and the entities that report your credit information to them and others—to ensure that your information is fair and accurate, and kept private. The FCRA protects your right to access and correct any inaccuracies in your credit report and provides you with remedies if a credit reporting agency or information furnisher violates your rights.
A "CRA" is any entity that collects and furnishes credit information about you. A common type of CRA is a credit bureau, such as Transunion, Equifax, or Experian. A CRA also includes a company or person who collects and sells your credit information (often in the form of background checks) to landlords, employers, or anyone else who makes a credit decision about you.
A CRA is obligated to:
An "information supplier," which is also known as a "furnisher," is any entity that submits your credit information to a CRA. Usually, that means your creditor. But it could also mean any other third party that you have even a loose credit relationship with, such as a government entity to whom you owe taxes, costs, or fines.
Under the FCRA, your creditor and any other information supplier:
If you dispute the inaccurate information with your creditor, in writing, it can't continue to report the wrong information to the CRA until it investigates. It must also notify the CRA of your dispute.
In addition to CRAs and your creditors, anyone who uses your credit information for employment, credit, or insurance purposes is covered by the FCRA. They must:
If any of these three types of entities (CRA, information supplier, or user) violates the rules in the FCRA, you might be able to sue them in state or federal court for damages. If you're in the military, you might have additional protections and remedies. Your state's laws could also offer additional relief and remedies. To learn more about your rights and remedies, talk to a lawyer. For more information on the FCRA in general, visit the Federal Trade Commission's section on credit reporting, which includes information about the FCRA.