Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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Your Credit Report

A good credit report will allow you to qualify for a credit card, purchase a home, and even get a job. For these reasons and many more, it is vital to review credit history and resolve any problems or delinquencies.

The following is a list of your rights:

  • You have the right to obtain a copy of your credit report.
  • In most cases, you have the right to know the names of companies or organizations who have received your credit report within the last year.
  • You have the right to know the name and address of the Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) used by a company which has denied your application for credit.
  • If your application for credit has been denied because of information supplied by a CRA, you have the right to a free copy of your credit report. You must request your free copy no more than 60 days after your denial.
  • You have the right to file a dispute with the CRA and with the company from which the CRA obtained the information in your credit report if you contest the accuracy of that information. Both the CRA and the source of their information have a legal obligation to reinvestigate the information in dispute.
  • If you are unemployed and planning to look for a job within the next 60 days, are receiving welfare benefits, or if your credit report is inaccurate because of fraud, you are entitled to one free credit report. Otherwise, an agency can charge you up to $9 per copy. Continue reading for additional information how to obtain free credit reports each year.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act

This act was designed to help you protect you from identity theft. Among other things, the act:

  • Allows you to place an alert on your credit files, if you suspect that you have been the victim of identity theft or you are a member of the military on active duty away from home. The National Fraud Alert System will put potential creditors on notice that they must proceed with caution when granting credit.
  • Requires merchants to delete a portion of your credit card account number from receipts for purchases in order to prevent others from using your credit card receipts to commit fraud or identity theft.

The 3 major nationwide Consumer Reporting Agencies will provide to you, upon request, a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com, the official, free site to access, review and print your report all at one time or throughout the year. Those agencies are:

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act provides ways to assist identity theft victims repair their credit reputation. Under the act:

  • Credit Reporting Agencies are required to stop reporting allegedly fraudulent information when a consumer establishes that they are the victim of identity theft.
  • Copies of any fraudulent accounts and transactions must be provided by the creditors and businesses associated with them.
  • To help prevent the spread of fraudulent account information, consumers are allowed to report identity theft directly to their creditors and Credit Reporting Agencies.
  • Remember that negative credit information can be reported for 10 years, a bankruptcy can be reported for 10, and any criminal convictions will remain on your credit report indefinitely.

Credit Card Accountability Responsibility Disclosure Act of 2009 (Credit CARD)

  • If denied for credit due to the credit score, the creditor must provide your credit score with the letter of credit denial.
  • A significant reform requires credit card issuers to disclose the total amount of interest and the length of time to pay the balance when a consumer pays only the minimum amount each month. Further, the issuer must provide an optional higher alternative, disclosing that the larger payment will reduce interest, reduce the term and reduce the overall amount paid to pay off the card in full.
  • No credit card or open-ended agreement may be sent or issued to a consumer under the age of 21.
  • Credit cards may be issued to college students under 21 with written parental permission and joint liability for the debt and written authorization and responsibility for any request to increase the amount of credit available.

For information, visit the Bureau of Consumer Protection online at www.attorneygeneral.gov or call the Consumer Protection Helpline at 1-800-441-2555.