Being aware of your credit rights is your best defense against unlawful debt collection practices of some creditors and debt collectors.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has listed specific rules on debt collection and if a creditor is guilty of a violation, you can file a complaint to the FTC. Let’s discuss some of these credit rights based on the FCRA:
Who may ask a copy of your Credit Report?
Credit bureaus may only issue a credit report for legitimate business transactions. Employers, insurance companies, creditors, and government agencies can inquire of your credit report however, all inquiries made should be disclosed in your report.
You have the right to know who has checked on your credit report. Credit Bureaus must also report this information.
Errors in Your Credit Report
You have the right to dispute errors or inaccurate information in your credit report. You can do this by sending a letter of dispute to the Credit Bureau who issued your report. Upon receipt of your letter, the bureau should investigate the matter and respond to your complaint within 60 days. If a credit bureau refuses to respond or take appropriate action, you can report them to the FTC as well.
What if you’ve been denied Credit?
If a creditor rejects your credit application, you can request a free copy of your credit report from a credit bureau. This will give you the chance to personally check your credit report. If a false information is the reason behind the disapproval of your credit application, you can dispute the matter and request the credit bureau to send a corrected copy of your report to the creditor who initially declined your application.
Limit Access to Your Information
You ask consumer reporting agencies not to give out your name to lending companies and other creditors who make unsolicited inquiries on your report. Such companies may do so in search of viable prospects as part of their marketing scheme.
You may call (888) 5 OPT OUT for your name to be excluded from Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. However, this exclusion is only good for a 2-year period. If you want to be be excluded from the list permanently, you must fill out a written form from the credit bureau’s office.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
What unfair practices are listed in The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act? For example, debt collectors should not contact any third party about your debts. Debt collectors must not reveal any information about your debts to anyone, not even your family or relatives to collect payment.
Debt collectors must never use foul language or threats to force a borrower to pay. If your debt collector is committing such acts, you can sue him for the grounds of violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
If you have been a victim of fraud or unfair business practices, file a complaint at Federal Trade Commission office or call their toll free number at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. For more information about your rights as a consumer, visit FTC’s official website at www.ftc.gov.
The Major Credit Bureaus:
Equifax – 1-800-685-1111 – www.equifax.com
Experian – 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) – www.experian.com
Trans Union – 1-800-916-8800 – www.transunion.com