Credit Reporting Agencies

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Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 USC §§ 1681-1681p) ("FCRA" or "federal act") regulates the activities of credit reporting agencies and the users of credit reports, and provides rights to consumers who are affected by such reports. California has enacted complementary legislation for the same purposes, the Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act (CC §§ 1785.1-1785.35) ("CCCRA") and the Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (CC §§ 1786-1786.56) ("CICRA"). [Consumer Law Sourcebook, Vol. III, pg. 279]

Banks, other lenders, retailers, and marketers pay credit reporting agencies (also known as credit bureaus) to gather and provide credit histories (credit reports) on individuals and businesses. A credit report includes how much credit a consumer has used, whether it was repaid on time, whether any amounts have not been repaid, and other factors that relate to past credit use and repayment. It will also include other personal information such as a social security number, employment history, and delinquent child or spousal support.

A consumer may request a copy of his or her file from each credit reporting agency at any time and review the file for accuracy. A review of his or her credit file will inform the consumer about the kind of information that has been sent to the credit reporting agency. Any time a person or business inquires about a consumer's credit, that too is noted in that person's file. In reviewing a credit file, a consumer should look not only for what has been reported, but also what has not been reported. The more information consumers have on credit file that shows they are a good credit risk, the better. A consumer may request a reinvestigation of a disputed item, but in general has no right to information that is accurate and current.

Who has access to a consumer's report?

  • Creditors (actual or prospective)
  • Landlords (actual or prospective)
  • Insurance companies (actual or prospective)
  • Employers (actual or prospective)

Is there anything that cannot be in a credit report?

  • Medical information (unless you give your consent)
  • A bankruptcy that is more than 10 years old
  • Debts and other information that are more than seven years old
  • If the report has been requested by a prospective or current employer, information about age, marital status, or race cannot be included

By law a consumer who is denied credit may request and must be given a free copy of a credit report within 60 days), but a consumer can obtain a copy for a fee at any time by contacting the following entities:

PO Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
(800) 888-4213 Recorded information
(800) 680-7289 To report Fraud

2880 Sunrise Boulevard, Suite 232
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
(800) 685-1111 To order a credit report
(800) 525-6285 To report Fraud

Copy of report:
PO Box 105873
Atlanta, GA 30348

Dispute Information in the Report:
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256

PO Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104

Experian offers 1 free credit report per year
To order credit report for fee:
(888) 397-3742

To opt out of marketing lists:
(800) 301-7195

The FTC enforces the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, but does not represent individual consumers.

Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
(877) 382-4357

Consumer Resource & Referral Guide Consumer Resource & Referral Guide
Directory of State Agencies Directory of State Agencies
Directory of Federal Agencies Directory of Federal Agencies
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