What are my rights to credit?

Credit is a major factor in almost everyone’s life in American society today. If you want to buy a house or car, you’ll need good credit. If you want a credit card, you’ll need good credit. In fact, even if you just want to rent an apartment or a DVD, your credit could be an issue. As a result, it is essential that you educate yourself about the different federal laws that protect your rights to credit. 
Laws about credit include the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), which deals with information placed on your credit report, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”), which safeguards you from discrimination when seeking credit, the Fair Credit Billing Act (“FCBA”) and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (“EFTA”), which help you resolve mistakes made in your financial accounts, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), which gives you rights against creditors attempting to collect debts that you might owe. By knowing all of your rights to credit, you can protect your rights to credit. 
First, everyone knows that if you want to get a loan or credit of any kind, the lender or bank will first look at your credit report, which is governed in large part by the FCRA. You have several important rights regarding your credit report; for instance, you have the right to obtain a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three major credit reporting companies. This allows you to see the information on your credit report and make sure it’s correct. You also are entitled to know who has requested your credit report within the last year, and to receive a copy of your credit report if you are denied credit. Finally, you have certain rights to dispute information on your credit report that you believe to be inaccurate.

Next, if you are applying for a loan, the ECOA prevents the bank or lender from discriminating against you on account of your sex, race, religion, marital status, age, national origin, or receipt of public assistance. All companies have to follow this important law, and it helps to ensure that no one can be denied credit for an illegal discriminatory reason. The ECOA also gives you the right to know why you are being denied credit under any circumstances.
Likewise, the FCBA and EFTA exist solely to help you fix mistakes that might occur with respect to your credit. These laws help protect you from mathematical errors, unauthorized charges to your accounts, improperly posted payments, and many other problems that might occur with your credit accounts. After all, mistakes are made more often than you might realize, and these laws go a long way toward enabling you to solve any problems that can occur as a result of these mistakes.
Finally, the FDCPA gives you, as a consumer, important rights with regard to money that you owe. While you are ultimately responsible for your debts, you also have the right to be treated fairly by debt collectors. Knowing your rights under the FDCPA prevents debt collectors from making misrepresentations to you, harassing you, and otherwise acting in an abusive manner toward you. 

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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