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Credit Education

Fair Credit Reporting Act

You have a role when it comes to fair credit reporting

Originally passed in 1970 and amended multiple times since, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was created to require consumer reporting agencies operate in a way that is fair and equitable to consumers while still fulfilling the needs of lenders, employers, insurance companies and others who use your credit reports. The Act set out to make credit reporting more fair for consumers by ensuring the information contained in credit reports is accurate, relevant, kept confidential, and only made available under specific circumstances. It is the Fair Credit Reporting Act that laid the foundation for consumer's ability to repair their credit.

The part of the Fair Credit Reporting Act that credit repair primarily focuses on is the accuracy of information in your credit reports. This is the one trait of the four where the responsibility of ensuring fair credit reporting falls to the consumer. With the other three, it is the credit reporting agencies that are responsible for what types of information they include in credit reports, how this information is provided to third parties, and which third parties have access to it. But with the issue of accuracy, the Fair Credit Reporting Act does not force the credit reporting agencies (credit bureaus) to make sure information is accurate when it is initially added to your credit reports. Instead, the Act gives you as a consumer the ability to dispute any questionable information in your credit reports, making it your responsibility to ensure the information in your credit reports is an accurate and fair representation of your credit worthiness.

Many people, including a number of which count themselves among this nation's credit experts, miss this point. They get caught up on the narrow definition of inaccurate reporting and don't see the broader concept of fairness that the Fair Credit Reporting Act is really about. They continue to preach that consumers are only able to dispute items that are patently inaccurate even though modern case law has expanded the idea of inaccurate negative items to also include items that are untimely, misleading, incomplete, ambiguous, unverifiable, biased or unclear (collectively known as "questionable" items).

Your credit score is based on the information in your credit reports. If you do not feel your credit score is a fair representation of your true credit worthiness, it is your responsibility to work to correct this. Disputing the questionable negative items in your credit reports with the credit reporting agencies is the method made available by the Fair Credit Reporting Act for you to enforce your right to fair and accurate credit reporting.

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