Reporting is an essential factor in the meaning of crediting. As consumers open accounts and build credit history, various consumer reporting agencies, such as credit bureaus and specialty agencies, gather data about credit health, account balances and other details. These other details can include information about check-writing history, medical records and rental history records. The reporting agencies combine these details into credit reports that other parties use to determine creditworthiness.


The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects consumers' credit details by regulating the collection, use and sharing of credit reports. Understanding FCRA standards helps organizations and consumers make the most informed and lawful credit-based decisions.



The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a law that protects the privacy of consumers' credit information. The act defines how to fairly collect, access, share or use consumer credit details. Credit reporting agencies (CRAs) develop consumer reports that compile details like:

  • Credit score

  • Account balance

  • Contact information

  • Social Security number

  • Current or former addresses

  • Current or former credit accounts

  • Account opening and closing date

  • Previous foreclosures or bankruptcies


Various organizations can collect these reports, from major credit bureaus to tenant screening services and car dealerships. The FCRA ensures these groups view data safely and allows consumers to view their credit details.


The FCRA was passed in 1970 to improve the accessibility surrounding credit reports. Before the law passed, reports contained extensive details about personality and health, which sparked concerns about privacy and morality. The FCRA was a landmark law for data privacy, setting a precedent for future legal outcomes.



The FCRA contains standards for consumers, reporting agencies and other organizations. Understanding consumer rights under the FCRA helps organizations rate consumers' financial standing fairly. The FCRA also helps consumers learn how organizations can use their data and the level of protection for certain actions.


The FCRA provides these rights for consumers:


Mandatory reports about adverse actions: If an organization uses a credit report to deny an application for credit, employment, insurance, loans, or rentals, consumers have the right to this information. The organization must explain their denial and provide the contact information of the credit agency that furnished the details.

Knowledge of credit report details: Consumers have the right to request and view credit details from reporting agencies. They must provide accurate identification to view the credit report, such as a Social Security number. The access might be free or at a cost. However, all consumers have the right to a free file disclosure if they experience identity theft, adverse actions, unemployment, or other specific circumstances.

Knowledge of credit score: Consumers also have the right to access their credit scores. This numerical score summarizes creditworthiness based on reports from different bureaus. Consumers often need credit score details to apply for mortgages, loans or other credit. While some of the bureaus provide a monthly or annual credit score at no cost, some may charge a small fee.

Disputes for inaccurate information: If consumers access their files and encounter inaccurate information, they have the right to dispute it so it can be corrected.

Corrections for outdated or incorrect data: After consumers dispute inaccurate information, reporting agencies must edit or delete the details within 30 days. The timely correction period increases report accuracy, which benefits consumers if these inaccuracies cause lower credit scores or decreased opportunities for new investments. In addition, agencies cannot report negative information that is more than seven years old. 

Limited file access: The FCRA also provides consumers with limited file access. Only individuals or organizations with a valid reason can request access to credit reports. Insurers, employers, landlords, creditors and other entities must state their purpose before accessing the file. 

Consent for employer file access: Many employers ask for credit reports to use for hiring decisions. The FCRA gives consumers more control over whether potential employers can view the credit report — individuals must provide written consent for hiring managers to access the report.

Restricted prescreened credit offers: Many credit card and insurance companies send offers that claim consumers are prescreened or preapproved for specific opportunities. These offers typically originate after companies evaluate the consumer's credit report. Consumers can opt out of these offers under the FCRA.

Security freezes: The FCRA also gives consumers the right to put a security freeze on credit reports. The freeze restricts reporting agencies from releasing information in credit reports unless authorized. This action prevents unauthorized users from obtaining loans or credit through certain names or accounts. In addition, the FCRA allows for fraud alerts on consumer profiles that indicate additional identification is necessary to verify the consumer's identity.

Damages from violators: The FCRA protects consumers if consumer reporting agencies or other organizations violate the FCRA. They have the right to sue in court if these violations occur.



The FCRA facilitates accurate reporting for consumers. If consumers identify incorrect or incomplete data in their credit reports, they can dispute the false details and ensure the report becomes accurate. The incorrect information might limit a consumer from qualifying for loans or other financial opportunities.


For instance, a report might reflect an inaccurate account balance or financial history that causes agencies to deny an application. Under the FCRA, consumers can challenge these inaccuracies and see the results updated quickly. That way, you provide financial institutions with the most accurate information possible.


In addition, the FCRA requires the removal of outdated financial details that are more than seven years old. This clause increases report fairness — lenders or other parties cannot approve or deny applicants based on previous financial mishaps. Instead, reports display the most updated and accurate information surrounding finances.




The FCRA protects many consumer rights for the collection and use of their credit details. These protections help consumers with benefits like:


Increased financial transparency: You can ask for access to your credit reports or scores anytime. This access provides more details about financial health, number of debts, creditworthiness and other essential financial factors. Consumers can use these details to make more informed decisions about investments or loans.

Enhanced credit security: Security is another essential FCRA component. Credit information is sensitive and should only be accessible to authorized parties. Features like the security freeze and limited file access help shield data from unauthorized groups. That way, consumers can avoid potential identity fraud or other financial damages.

Heightened accuracy: The right to dispute inaccuracies and request access to credit reports increases reporting accuracy. The more updated information you have, the more opportunities become available to apply for loans, new rental property, mortgages, insurance policies or various other options.



The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides notable rights for consumers, from increased privacy to the right to dispute inaccuracies. Understanding consumer rights under the FCRA can help you serve your customers more effectively.


To help your customer with their financial futures, explore Array products today. We offer many solutions to protect digital identity, maintain privacy, and build credit. Our credit services provide customized user experiences, providing deep insights into credit activity and identity protection.


To get started with Array, request a demo today.




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Amelia Chen
Post by Amelia Chen
November 28, 2023
Amelia Chen is the Head of Marketing at Array, a leading embeddable fintech products platform company where she leads all of marketing. Prior to Array, she led product marketing for the corporate segment at Relativity, a legal tech and compliance software company. With a background in finance, sales, strategic partnerships and marketing, Amelia is passionate about understanding the market and finding the most effective and resonant ways to communicate with customers. Always seeking to learn more, Amelia holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and earned her Bachelor's Degree from Northwestern University.