Fair Credit Reporting and Consumer Credit

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Fair Credit Reporting and Consumer Credit
1 year ago
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Identity theft and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The threat of identity theft and how consumers might prevent it are two good reasons why consumers should understand their rights under consumer legislation such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The 2007 Identity Fraud Survey Report released by Javelin Strategy and Research found that the number of U.S. adults who became victims of identity fraud dropped significantly from 10.1 million in 2003 and 9.3 million in 2005 to 8.4 million in 2007.

Consumers can find more information about the foregoing study and other privacy rights information at PrivacyRights.org. When consumers take charge of credit, they can protect themselves from some instances of fraud. For example, consider the consumer who monitors his bank account regularly for unauthorized debit card transactions. A concerned consumer contacts the financial institution immediately and completes the credit card dispute form to get the unauthorized charge investigated and reversed.

The contents of the Fair Credit Reporting Act also help consumers to make better financial decisions. Consumers should not rely only upon disclosures or letters from creditors or lenders to know their rights.

An easy-to-read version of the FCRA resides on the website of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC.org). Based on that information, readers can find interesting facts about credit reporting. Consumers should realize that how companies report their credit to the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) and how these agencies transmit consumer information affects their reputations as credit holders.

Consumer Reports
According to FCRA, a consumer report includes written or oral communications about a consumer, including his or her ?œcredit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living.??

Credit reporting agencies communicate information that affects more areas of life than just credit accounts. Information may be communicated for reasons such as employment, child support collection, ascertaining history of medical payments, and insurance underwriting. The Fair Credit Reporting Act specifies exactly what can be shared about a consumer, who can access the information, and how that information can be used. The FCRA also specifies in what situations government agencies can access information for purposes such as enforcing child support orders and conducting national security investigations.

When consumers read the FCRA, they may discover rights such as how to prevent their information from being shared. For example, consumers generally have the right to exclude themselves from consumer lists, including their name and address, when agencies prepare reports for credit or insurance transactions not initiated by the consumer. It is the responsibility of the consumer to notify the consumer reporting agencies of their wish not to have their name and information shared.

These examples suggest that consumers should really get to know their consumer credit reports. The actions of consumer reporting agencies affect consumer credit and other important aspects of finances, such as employment and qualifying for insurance coverage. Smart consumers monitor their credit report and limit how their information can be shared, especially when there is not a need to know. Credit report monitoring not only shows errors; it also shows alerts consumers to third parties that might be trying to access their consumer information for questionable purposes.
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