The Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is legislation originally passed in 1970 that is designed to promote and further the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in credit reports and other affiliated documents. The goal behind it is to place an emphasis on the rights of consumers in relation to the credit histories, scores, and debts. Recent amendments expanded consumer rights and like the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, places additional requirements on credit reporting bureaus and other businesses that provide information to these companies.

Upon request, you have the right to know what is on your credit report. When you request the information, the credit report bureau must tell you everything that is on your credit report and also give you a list of everyone who requested (also called "Inquiry") your credit report in the past few years.

In this same vein, then, these credit report bureaus can collect and sell idenfication and employment information (like name, date of birth, social security number), payment history (basic information about how much credit you have and whether you paid it on time, or if any of your debt is in collections), any inquiries made by any individuals or businesses on your credit, and any public record information (like lawsuits, bankruptcies, or tax liens). This is all information that can be collected and sold by these bureaus.

You are entitled to one free credit report a year. You can search online for a free annual credit report, but be careful to avoid websites that offer a "free" report only to charge you for it later on.