IMPROPER ACCESS TO CREDIT REPORT (FCRA)
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law enacted to, in part, protect consumers’ privacy. It protects some of your most important, private information: your finances and credit. As such, it is important that you, as the consumer, are monitoring who the people and/or entities are that are “pulling” or accessing your credit reports. Your reports can only be reviewed in limited circumstances, the most frequent of which is when you are applying for credit or for an account review by a creditor in a debtor-creditor relationship with you.
When It Exists. For individuals that have a trade-line (i.e., an account), a debtor-creditor relationship exists. The debtor entered into a contract and owes the creditor monies. Examples of such debtor-creditor relationships include credit cards, mortgages, lines of credit, landlord-tenant relationships, and medical debts. If a creditor or service provider accesses your credit report to determine if you are servicing other accounts, that is permissible provided the debt is still legitimate.
When It Does Not Exist. When is the debt not legitimate … and therefore no permissible purpose exists to pull your credit report?
Discharged Debt (Bankruptcy)
- Debt is Paid
- Debt is Resolved/Settled
- Wrong Person (i.e., not your debt)
- Identity Theft
- Mixed Credit File
If you check your credit report and find in the”Inquiries” section that any creditors or debt collectors that do not have a debtor-creditor relationship with you (as laid out above) then someone has invaded your privacy as they have no reasonable, otherwise legitimate reason for accessing your credit report. In such circumstance, without disputing, you have a private right of action against the user who accessed your credit and, in certain circumstances, a cause of action against the credit reporting bureau that allowed the user of information access to your report. In short, if you see questionable activity under the inquiries section of your credit report, call the fair credit reporting attorneys at KotlerLaw to go over your report and better understand your rights.
Applying for Credit Transaction
Additionally, if a consumer is applying for a credit transaction (i.e., credit card, mortgage, car loan, etc.) and has authorized the potential creditor to pull a consumer’s credit, then the “pull” or access to that consumer’s credit report is lawful. Seem straight forward — so what is the rub here? Again, if someone has stolen your identify or an aggressive creditor (e.g., car dealer) pulls a consumer’s credit too soon (i.e., just test driving) or pulls too many people’s credit (i.e., a spouse along for the ride to look at car with no intentions of applying for credit, etc.) then a consumer may have a cause of action against that user of information for improperly pulling credit.
In the end, if you have retrieved your credit report and see that entities have accessed or pulled your credit and, based on the above, do not seem to have a permissible purpose for doing so, contact a credit reporting error attorney at Kotler Law to discuss your rights and your potential case.