Consumer Rights: Credit Reporting and Debt Collection Laws

Consumers should be aware of their rights when it comes to fair credit reporting and debt collection. For example, did you know that you can sue debt collectors and credit bureaus if their conduct falls outside of acceptable business practices? What exactly is considered acceptable? Can debt collectors threaten to throw you in jail? Can credit bureaus continue to list negative entries, even after they are proven false? How long must negative items stay in your credit file?

The Federal Trade Commission controls the functions of consumer credit reporting organizations using the principles outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act-FCRA. Credit reporting organizations are contracted out of three primary consumer credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion along with other corporations who record and maintain in-depth consumer files. These files can include a consumer's purchasing patterns, credit score data, employment and any court proceedings. Consequences relating to infractions of the FCRA are divided into two primary groups; willful violations and negligent violations. Either group can incur fines, legal service expenses and criminal prosecution.

Infractions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act include any prohibited or misleading trade tactic, supplying consumer information to persons or organizations without having express authorization from the consumer as well as detailing validated discrepancies on a consumer credit record. Validated discrepancies include instances of a specific record being eradicated from a consumer credit file, and ultimately reinserted. In these instances, the credit bureau must notify the consumer in writing concerning the specific item's reinsertion within five business days. Other infractions concerning consumer reports include requiring independent, written notice by companies to employees and potential employees, if the company decides to obtain a consumer report with regard to employment. Consumers and corporations should understand the entire scope of the FCRA to make sure they know about potential infractions.

Debt collectors are also subject to the rules set forth in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act-FDCPA. Learn your rights as they refer to debt collection and you may be surprised at what you will discover. For example, did you know that debt collectors can only call you during certain times each day? Are they allowed to call your neighbors and tell them about your alleged debt? Did you know that you can stop the phone calls altogether? Not all debt collectors and debt buyers follow the FDCPA guidelines; Learn your rights and avoid becoming a victim of unscrupulous debt collection practices.

Source by Kat Kally

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