What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)?
Below is a summary of the FCRA. The full Act can be obtained directly from the Federal Trade Commission's web site or by clicking here.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (Summary)
Public Law 91-508
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows a consumer to challenge the information on his credit report on the basis of "completeness and accuracy." If, after a reinvestigation by the credit bureau, the disputed information "is found to be inaccurate or can no longer be verified, the [credit bureau] shall promptly delete such information."
The credit bureaus are required to complete the investigation within a "reasonable period of time." This period has been set at thirty days.
The credit bureaus can ignore the consumer dispute if they have reason to believe that the dispute is "frivolous or irrelevant." The FTC commentary on the FCRA cites, as an example of a frivolous dispute, a dispute wherein the consumer challenges all negative items on his credit report without providing any allegations regarding specific items in the credit file. However, "A [credit bureau] must assume a consumer's dispute is bona fide, unless there is clear and convincing evidence to the contrary."
When a consumer challenges a credit listing on the basis of extenuating circumstances, such as health problems, divorce, job loss, etc., the credit bureaus may decide to ignore that dispute as frivolous.
When a consumer submits a dispute which is neither frivolous nor irrelevant by credit bureau standards, the credit bureau must "at a minimum... check with the original sources or other reliable sources of the disputed information and inform them of the nature of the consumer's dispute." In some cases of consumer dispute, "Reinvestigation and verification may require more than asking the original source of the disputed information the same question and receiving the same answer."
From our experience, most people quickly discover that the process can be troublesome and time consuming.
In theory and law, the process is deceptively simple, thus leading many people to believe that they can easily handle this themselves "for the price of a few postage stamps." From our experience, most people discover that the credit bureaus often make the process troublesome and time consuming. In these cases, many seek the assistance of a credit repair law firm.