The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) passed by the Congress, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), protects consumers from falling prey to false credit practices. The FCRA is a federal law that ensures the protection of your credit rights. Under the FCRA the consumers have certain rights to make sure their credit is reported fairly.
The purpose of the FCRA is to ensure "accuracy and fairness of credit reporting." There are three main Credit Reporting Agencies (CRA) that assimilate information regarding your credit, your spending habits and your liabilities etc. Different states may have their own CRAs. These CRAs report the information collected to the FCRA. This Act directs and controls information collected by CRAs about a consumer's credit worthiness, his capacity to repay a debt, and consumer privacy.
The CRAs should disclose your credit report to you when requested. You have to identify yourself to the agency to acquire the report. A CRA may provide your credit report only to those who are permitted by you. You may permit access of the report for evaluation of an application for a loan, credit card, or employment. However, the CRA should not provide any information to employers unless the employer has your written permission.
Under the FCRA you have a right to dispute if you realize there is inaccurate information in the credit report. The agency then has to investigate the matter with the source that provided the information. The CRA must correct or delete any inaccurate information in your credit report. Outdated information in your credit report also needs to be deleted. If the information has negative impact in it, it should be deleted after a span of seven years (ten for bankruptcies).
You may also request the CRAs not to share your information with marketers, who then send you unsolicited messages. You may request to remove your name from marketing lists. You have to inform this to all three CRAs because all three have your credit report.
Under the FCRA you have a right to get your credit score / report anytime, for a fee. You are entitled to get one free report every year and all subsequent reports can be had for a fee.
You may opt for fraud alerts to help prevent identity thefts. If you believe you are a victim of identity theft you have special rights under the FCRA. These rights can help you recover from the effects of identity theft.