The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was passed in 1970 in order to regulate the use of personal information among employers, insurers, and lending agencies and to protect consumers from abuse. The FCRA spells out consumer rights and penalizes agencies found to be in noncompliance with the regulations.
The following is a guide for consumers to recognize and exercise their rights before granting authorization for their credit information to be pulled.
Guide to Your Rights as a Consumer
- Exercise caution when supplying your personally identifying information to another party. This information can be used against you in the form of identity fraud and includes your SSN, date of birth, and mother’s maiden name. Read more here.
- Always request to see your report whether a prospective employer has pulled it or a crediting agency. CRAs may charge for you to view it, but the FTC has capped the charge at $9. The reason you would want to look at your own report is to inspect it for errors and/or accounts that have been opened without your knowledge. You should especially view your reports if the results have been cited as the reason for a denial of service or employment.
- You can choose to opt out of “prescreening,” which is the practice of selling your information based on your credit. If you’ve ever received unsolicited offers for credit cards, it means that when your consumer credit report was pulled during the hiring process of your new job, it was shared with affiliates who are now trying to market their services to you. In order to opt out, you need to send a letter or call 1-888-5OPTOUT.
- Under the FACTA, amendments to the FCRA require that your bank inform you of how to opt out of affiliate sharing marketing, which like “prescreening,” puts you on a list to receive unsolicited marketing materials. Do this to cut down on junk mail and minimize the risk of identity fraud.
- There is also “affiliate information sharing” to worry about and opt out of. Under the FCRA, you can stop banks, credit card companies, and other creditors from sharing your transactional information for whatever reason.
- Know your rights. If you think your consumer information has been used improperly or your right under the FCRA have been violated, you can file a complaint with the FTC and contact an attorney who specializes in FCRA litigation.
- Demand that CRAs withhold the last five digits of your SSN with supplying credit reports.
- You can place a “fraud alert” with the CRAs in the event that you have been or suspect you may have been the victim of identity theft. This prevents credit from being issued in your name.