The Federal Fair Credit
Reporting Act (FCRA) is designed to promote accuracy,
fairness, and privacy of information in the files of every
"consumer reporting agency" (CRA). Most CRAs are credit
bureaus that gather and sell information about you -- such
as if you pay your bills on time or have filed bankruptcy --
to creditors, employers, landlords, and other businesses.
There are several steps
involved in repairing your credit after bankruptcy or in
lieu of bankruptcy.
The first step is to get a copy of your credit report.
Once you have obtained a copy of your credit report, the
following steps can be taken to begin repairing your credit:
You can dispute
inaccurate information with the Credit Reporting Agency.
If you tell a CRA that your file contains inaccurate
information, the CRA must investigate the items (usually
within 30 days) by presenting to its information source
all relevant evidence you submit, unless your dispute is
frivolous. The source must review your evidence and
report its findings to the CRA. (The source also must
advise national CRAs -- to which it has provided the
data -- of any error.) The CRA must give you a written
report of the investigation, and a copy of your report
if the investigation results in any change. If the CRA's
investigation does not resolve the dispute, you may add
a brief statement to your file. The CRA must normally
include a summary of your statement in future reports.
If an item is deleted or a dispute statement is filed,
you may ask that anyone who has recently received your
report be notified of the change.
must be corrected or deleted. A CRA must remove or
correct inaccurate or unverified information from its
files, usually within 30 days after you dispute it.
However, the CRA is not required to remove accurate data
from your file unless it is outdated (as described
below) or cannot be verified. If your dispute results in
any change to your report, the CRA cannot reinsert into
your file a disputed item unless the information source
verifies its accuracy and completeness. In addition, the
CRA must give you a written notice telling you it has
reinserted the item. The notice must include the name,
address and phone number of the information source.
You can dispute
inaccurate items with the source of the information.
If you tell anyone -- such as a creditor who reports to
a CRA -- that you dispute an item, they may not then
report the information to a CRA without including a
notice of your dispute. In addition, once you've
notified the source of the error in writing, it may not
continue to report the information if it is, in fact, an
may not be reported. In most cases, a CRA may not
report negative information that is more than seven
years old; ten years for bankruptcies.
Reference: Federal Trade Commission, "A summary of Your
Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act."