As with many legal rights, your rights to credit reporting information can be very confusing. Many different laws are passed on a regular basis that change these rights. For most people there is no need to understand the majority of these credit reporting laws and regulations. There are, however, a few legal rights that we all need to understand, like the legal right to view your credit report.
There is a definite need to know what is in your credit report. If you ever have to apply for a job, get a new credit card, buy a car on credit, buy a house on credit, apply for a personal loan, or apply for a small business loan, what others see on your credit report will be a factor in whether or not you get what you want at the terms you want. That is why it is so important to regularly check what each of the credit reporting agencies is saying about you.
If there are inaccuracies in your credit report, you need to get them repaired.
- If someone is stealing your identity, you need to take legal action to protect yourself.
- You may also be able to take behavioral steps to improve what your credit report says about you over time.
- You may be able to counter specific negatives in your credit report by explaining them upfront when you apply for credit or seek a job.
The important thing to note, however, is that you cannot correct any of these potential problems unless you monitor your credit reports.
In almost all of the above mentioned instances when others will be viewing your credit report to make decisions about doing business with you, you have a legal right to view your credit report. For example, if something in your credit report is listed as a reason for a decision not to do business with you, you can generally request a free copy of said credit report regardless of how many other times you’ve viewed that credit report for free in any given period. While many such laws vary by state, there are many federal laws that grant you legal viewing rights.
One of the most important legislative acts to protect consumers from unfair credit reporting practices was the creation of AnnualCreditReport.com as mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You can go to this site and request a free credit report every 12 months from each of the 3 major credit reporting agencies. You have the right to request these reports regardless of other free reports you’ve been granted for other reasons during these 12 month periods. So every American should be taking advantage of these 3 free annual credit reports. Many Americans still think they have to pay for credit reports or sign up for special offers to view their credit reports, but this is no longer the case.
If you notice anything odd in any of your credit reports, you need to take quick action to remedy the situation. Over time the companies misreporting information about you may go out of business or reorganize, while identity thieves can disappear into new identities. The sooner you act, the easier it is to correct inaccuracies and halt identity theft. Your most important legal credit reporting right is the right to have your credit history reported accurately. This is also one of the most important things you can do to minimize your loan interest rates, improve your business financing prospects, and improve your career opportunities.