Many debtors are concerned about their credit before and after filing for bankruptcy. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that protects the integrity of your credit by instituting rules on how all credit reporting agencies handle your credit information. FCRA protects your right to correct inaccuracies in a credit report and requires agencies to report the credit information so that it is accurate and privately held. At Grainger Legal Services, our Alabama bankruptcy attorneys can help individuals protect their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Credit reporting agencies under FCRA include all entities that collect and provide credit information about consumers. Some examples include Equifax and Experian. However, this category also includes those that collect and sell credit information to landlords or employers. Under FCRA, a credit reporting agency is required to provide you with a file disclosure, which reveals all the information that it has about you, as well as your credit score. If you ask, the credit reporting agency must investigate disputed information and correct or delete inaccurate information within 30 days of when you provide notice that you dispute a claim.
Credit reporting agencies can only disclose your file to those with valid needs and must withhold credit information from your employers unless you provide consent. They can report negative information for only the limited period of time of 7-10 years.
Generally, a creditor is not allowed to report information that it has reasonable cause to know is inaccurate, and it must promptly correct any inaccurate information previously supplied. A creditor needs to tell you within 30 days if it reports negative information to a credit reporting agency and must tell the agency when you close your account. It has to refrain from reporting information about an account that is the result of identity theft.
If you want to dispute inaccurate information, you must do it in writing. This stops the creditor from reporting wrong information until an investigation takes place. Under FCRA, anybody who uses your credit information is required to tell you if they turned you down based on information in your credit report and identify who provided the credit report.
When FCRA is violated, you can sue the violating party in state or federal court. Many people file for bankruptcy because they are overwhelmed with debt and want a fresh start. However, if the information in your credit report is inaccurate, or creditors are unduly harassing you, you may be able to file a lawsuit against any entity violating the FCRA rather than filing for bankruptcy. This can be a more appropriate remedy because bankruptcy should never be filed lightly or in response to untrue creditors’ claims.
Whether it is appropriate to file an FCRA lawsuit or file for bankruptcy depends on your particular circumstances. While bankruptcy may allow you to start fresh, there are often better ways to clear up any credit disputes when you have been the victim of identity theft or when there are other FCRA violations that are making your life difficult. At Grainger Legal Services, our Alabama bankruptcy lawyers can counsel individuals on whether to file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, or whether other options may be more appropriate. We have offices in Montgomery, Prattville, and Troy. Call us at (334) 260-0500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.