Credit Scores & Credit Monitoring What To Do About Bad Credit The Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 By Jake Stroup Jake Stroup Jake Stroup is a recognized authority in identity theft protection. He's a Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist and served on the Board of Directors of the Indiana State Association of Health Underwriters. Jake is the owner of Slight Edge Group, an identity theft education organization. learn about our editorial policies Updated on January 24, 2022 Reviewed by Julius Mansa Reviewed by Julius Mansa Julius Mansa is a CFO consultant, finance and accounting professor, investor, and U.S. Department of State Fulbright research awardee in the field of financial technology. He educates business students on topics in accounting and corporate finance. Outside of academia, Julius is a CFO consultant and financial business partner for companies that need strategic and senior-level advisory services that help grow their companies and become more profitable. learn about our financial review board Fact checked by David Rubin Fact checked by David Rubin Facebook Instagram Twitter David J. Rubin is a fact checker for The Balance with more than 30 years in editing and publishing. The majority of his experience lies within the legal and financial spaces. At legal publisher Matthew Bender & Co./LexisNexis, he was a manager of R&D, programmer analyst, and senior copy editor. learn about our editorial policies Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Getty Images/Dave and Les Jacobs The Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 controls the collection, use, and redistribution of your consumer information. Enacted October 26, 1970, it represents an amendment to the Consumer Credit Protection Act of 1969 and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. The law is usually referred to as FCRA. The FTC maintains a consumer-friendly detailed online summary of rights that the Act provides for consumers. History of the Fair Credit Reporting Act Originally, the law was primarily of interest to banks and consumer reporting agencies (CRA), and businesses which sent information to them. Today, this law applies to a wide variety of organizations that collect personal information from you directly, as well as from public records. The law was amended in 2003 by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) to allow consumers to obtain a free report from consumer reporting agencies that are covered by FCRA. By that time, however, the list of consumer reporting agencies had grown significantly. The FCRA defines the organizations that must comply with the law by the type of information that is handled. As credit lenders have widened their search for creditworthiness to include things like utility bills and rental history, organizations that collect this type of information are also included. Generally, the FCRA says you may see whatever information a CRA has in their file on you and that you have the right to dispute inaccurate information in that file. If you dispute something, FCRA dictates how that dispute is resolved, and if inaccurate information is removed, they must also notify you within 5 days if the information is put back into your file. If you're a victim of identity theft, however, the most important part of FCRA is Section 609(e). This is the part that says if a company has done business with someone using your information (in other words, an identity thief who says they are you) that company must provide you with all applications and business records that were made in your name. However, companies have given identity theft victims a lot of grief over this. Some companies say they cannot release the records because they are proprietary, others may say they won't give you the information without a court order. A few have even gone so far as to say they wouldn't provide that information because they must protect the privacy of their clients (be careful not to explode when they tell you that.) The problem is so prevalent that the FTC has written guidances specifically addressing this issue. They have also created a letter you can download to send to a company if you need to obtain these records. Note FCRA specifies that these records may be given to you, and to a law enforcement officer you designate, who will probably be the detective looking into your case (assuming you have one). One advantage the FCRA offers consumers is that it permits a private citizen to prosecute their own case against any "nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency" that is in violation of the law in state or federal court. The statute of limitations is either five years after the infraction that is the basis of the suit, or two years after the plaintiff discovers the infraction, whichever is earlier. (In other words, if you discover the violation one year after it occurs, but then wait three years to act, you will be prohibited from filing a suit by the earlier two-year date-of-discovery limit, even though you are still within the later five-year occurrence limit.) Companies that know they have violated the FCRA may be able to have a case dismissed by notifying their clients of the error, because this would give clients a two-year window instead, after which they could argue that the statute of limitations has already passed. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Congressional Research Service. “The Consumer Credit Protection Act: An Overview of Its Major Components,” Summary. U.S. Government Publishing Office. "TITLE I—Consumer Credit Cost Disclosure," Page 146. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Examination Procedures.” Federal Trade Commission. “Fair Credit Reporting Act,” Page 3. Federal Trade Commission. “Fair Credit Reporting Act,” Pages 58-61. Federal Trade Commission. “Fair Credit Reporting Act,” Page 49. Federal Trade Commission. “Kohl's Department Stores, Inc.: Complaint for Permanent Injunction, Other Equitable Relief, and Civil Penalties, June 10, 2020,” Pages 4-6. Federal Trade Commission. “Businesses Must Provide Victims and Law Enforcement With Transaction Records Relating to Identity Theft.” Federal Trade Commission. “Fair Credit Reporting Act,” Pages 49-50. Federal Trade Commission. “Fair Credit Reporting Act,” Pages 80-81.