What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that protects consumers from inaccurate credit report information and provides for monetary damages when erroneous information is not corrected in a timely fashion.

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Your credit score determines if you will be approved for a credit card, car loan, home mortgage, student loan or any other major purchase and determines how much money you have to pay in interest for borrowing that money.

A mistake on your credit report can cost you thousands of dollars or result in the loan not being approved. Perhaps you've paid the debt already or you didn't owe it at all. Maybe it was a mathematical error by the creditor, or you were charged for an item not received or never purchased in the first place.

Confusion: Your credit report may contain information that belongs to someone else with the same or similar name or social security number.

Fraud: You may be the victim of fraud resulting from someone using your credit information to make purchases which now appear on your credit report, an event that happens all to frequently these days.

How can problems completely beyond your control be fixed once and for all?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is protecting consumers like you by providing a way to correct problems and enforce the accuracy, fairness and privacy of consumer information contained in the files of consumer reporting agencies. Commonly referred to as credit reports, these files contain information about your credit, bill repayment history and the current status of all of your credit accounts (i.e. loans, mortgages, and credit cards). The reports share with other creditors and potential creditors, how often you make your payments on time, the amount of credit you have available, how much credit you owe, and whether a bill collector or agency is attempting to collect money on a debt you owe. These reports can also include information on liens, judgments, and bankruptcies.

The FCRA provides rights for consumers, including the right to receive one free copy of their credit report every year, to ensure the information is accurate. This report can be accessed through

If an error is found in your credit report, it should be addressed immediately because it affects how much you pay for credit, whether you will be approved for continued credit and alerts you to whether someone has used your credit without authorization. Correcting and/or updating a credit report requires following a specific process, and there are different procedures followed by the three largest companies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

If a correction for an error or problem is properly submitted to the credit reporting agencies and the furnisher of the entry (a credit card company, for example), there is a specific period of time within which the entry must be corrected by the credit reporting agency, or no longer reported, if by the furnisher. If that period of time expires and the correction is not made, the consumer has the right to assert a legal claim for monetary damages.

When the system works, credit reports accurately show the credit profile of the consumer. Unfortunately however, it is all too common that corrections are not made or that the errors are "found to be accurate" by the credit reporting agencies, and will not be corrected unless the consumer files a lawsuit against both the credit reporting agency and the company that provided it (furnisher).

Kimmel & Silverman helps consumers when credit report problems have not been corrected. Because such claims are often difficult and time consuming to resolve, it is not advisable for a consumer to try to do so on their own. Legal representation is necessary.

Kimmel & Silverman represents FCRA clients without charge to them, recovering our attorney fees from the credit reporting agencies and the furnishers in addition to what we recover for the client so that all attorney fees and court costs if you prevail are covered and there is no out-of-pocket cost because all claims are carefully reviewed before suit is filed.

Kimmel & Silverman limits legal representation to consumer claims, having become one of the most respected and largest consumer law firms in the country. Since 1991 we have provided cost-free legal help to more than 100,000 consumers. Featured in the pages of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Kiplinger's, Consumer Reports, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show and scores of TV and radio programs, our nationally-recognized experience is equipped to get clients the recovery they deserve.


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