As a resident of the U.S., you are most likely aware of your rights to free speech, bear arms, and to vote. But did you know that you have credit rights as well?
Our credit scores are a useful way for banks and lending agencies to determine whether you’re a good candidate for a loan. But any errors can derail your ability to secure a loan or even find a job, and identity thieves can wreak havoc on your score if they get ahold of your information.
To address these concerns, the U.S. legislature has passed and revised several consumer protection laws. Here are a few laws that pertain directly to your credit score, and the steps you can take to repair any damage and fix mistakes contained in your score.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The takeaways of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and how they apply to repairing your credit, are that:
- Credit reporting companies must investigate any claims you make
- Credit reporting companies are required to fix or delete any incorrect information found on your credit report
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA)
If you don’t know already, then you should now: you are entitled to one free credit report every year. This law requires all three credit reporting companies to provide you with a free report every 12 months. The website, www.annualcreditreport.com, is set up for this exact purpose.
Having access to your credit report is the first step to catching identity thieves and repairing errors.
The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA)
This law, passed in 1974, provides you with the tools necessary to fix errors on credit card accounts. According to this law, you can:
- Send in a written letter of dispute to your creditor (it has to be in writing)
- Your creditor must acknowledge your dispute within 30 days of receiving your letter
- Within 90 days or receiving your letter, your creditor must investigate your claim and make applicable corrections
- If your creditor doesn’t think there is an error, they must respond with a letter explaining why
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects you from harassment from debt collectors. The FDCPA doesn’t cover business debts, but it does cover personal and family debts.
Because of the FDCPA, debt collectors can’t contact you at odd hours of the night, and they can’t make threats of imprisonment or violence. You have the right to send a debt collector a written notice that you don’t owe them money, and they must address your concerns without contacting you in the meantime.
To learn more about the FDCPA, read this article from the FTC.
Knowledge is Power
Armed with these laws, you don’t have to put up with any incorrect, erroneous, or harassing elements when it comes to your credit score. There is much you can do by yourself, including sending letters to creditors and credit reporting companies.
Getting help from an experienced credit repair company can give you a leg up, but it’s always beneficial to know your rights in the first place.