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Know Your Rights – The FCRA

- Feb 25, 2024 Improving Credit0 comments

The Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) is over one hundred pages to read. Understandably, many consumers are not aware of their rights found in the FCRA, as they do not have the time to read all those hard-to-understand English pages. In this post, I will give you, in plain English, some key points from the FCRA so that you will have a basic idea of your rights.

Credit inquiries

The FCRA states that the credit bureaus may only furnish a copy of your credit report for a permissible purpose which includes:

  1. Court order
  2. Employment application
  3. Credit transaction
  4. Insurance underwriting
  5. Business transactions in which a consumer report is needed

Please note that in all cases (except for a court order), a hard credit pull can only be done with the consumer’s consent. 

Prescreened offers

A consumer has the right to request to opt-out from prescreened or prequalified offers. Request can be submitted online at https://www.optoutprescreen.com/ or call 888-567-8688.

Negative marks

There is a limit to how long negative marks can stay on the credit report. For example, a charge off or late payment can only be reported for 7 years. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be reported for 10 years. See this post for more details.

How Long Do Marks Stay On My Credit Report?

Even if you mess up your credit due to hardship, your credit is not messed up for life. You still have a second chance! The FCRA has set rules for how long negative ma...

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Identity theft

If someone feels that they may be the victim of identity theft, then they have the right to request the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on their credit report. They may also choose a request to entirely freeze their credit reports. Both of these options are free. You can read more about credit freezes and fraud alerts here and here.

The credit bureaus must immediately delete all negative marks from a consumer’s credit report which are reported as a result of identity theft.


The credit bureaus need to take proper action to ensure that all information found on a consumers credit report is accurate. If a consumer disputes an item found on their credit report, then the credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate the matter. If after 30 days, the credit bureaus are not able to fully verify the information reported then they will need to remove it from the consumer’s credit report immediately.

If items were previously deleted from a credit report due to them being inaccurate, then they are not allowed to reappear on the consumer’s credit report until they are proven to be fully accurate by the furnisher.

A consumer should receive the results from a dispute within 5 days of when the credit bureaus completed their investigation. If there were any changes to the credit report, then the consumer has the right to request a free copy of their credit report as well.

Annual free copy of credit report

A consumer has the right to request a free copy of their credit report once every year. A consumer also has the right to request a free copy within 60 days after they were declined for credit due to information found on their credit report. 

Requests can be submitted:

Online: https://www.annualcreditreport.com

Phone: 1-877-322-8228

Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

End note

Please note that this post is just to give you a basic overview of your rights found in the FCRA. To learn more about the FCRA read https://www.ffiec.gov/exam/InfoBase/documents/02-con-fair_credit_reporting_act-000799.pdf.

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Sam Sam has nearly a decade's worth of experience educating his many readers on everything credit. Sam spends his days checking out credit cards for a full report, from the minute benefit details to the shebang of welcome bonuses. Plus studying the ins and outs of building proper credit. It’s his favorite pastime and he loves sharing it with others.

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