A private, profit-making company that collects and sells information about a person’s credit history. Typical clients include banks, mortgage lenders and credit card companies that use the information to screen applicants for loans and credit cards. There are three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act regulates them.
An account of your credit history, prepared by a credit bureau. A credit report will contain both credit history, such as what you owe to whom and whether you make the payments on time, as well as personal history, such as your former addresses, employment record and lawsuits in which you have been involved.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act gives consumers the right to insist that the credit bureaus report only accurate information on their credit reports. The Act provides that consumers have a right to ask credit bureaus to investigate and delete inaccurate information on their credit reports.
When access to a credit report is gained without permission. Generally, the only persons who can access a consumer’s credit reports are those businesses or persons with whom the consumer has asked for or established credit.
One of the major sources of errors in consumer’s credit reports is due to the credit bureaus mixing one consumer’s files with those of another. When the other person has bad credit, your credit score will be adversely affected. Sometimes one consumer’s files are mixed with those of a relative.
Debt collectors increasingly are buying up old debt, such as credit card debt, and putting the debt on consumers’ credit reports. Generally, debts that were charged off more than seven (7) years ago cannot be legally reported even if they were never paid. The consumer should first ask the credit bureaus to investigate the reports pointing out that the debt is more than seven (7) years old. The consumer should also ask the debt collector to delete the information from his or her credit reports. If results are not successful, the consumer may retain an attorney to file a lawsuit for damages and to correct the reports.