You had financial trouble in the past, but you’re finally starting to get back on top. Smaller debts have been paid, and you’re chipping away at the larger items in the list—and you were hoping for a low-interest loan to consolidate the rest. However, you’ve just been notified that your loan was denied due to information about you from a credit agency—information that shouldn’t have been used against you. Is there a way to stop a credit reporting agency from sending out a negative report even after your debts have been paid?
Credit Reporting Agencies Can Permanently Affect Your Family’s Finances
Credit reporting agencies - technically called "Consumer Reporting Agencies" (CRAs) - perform a simple function: to give your creditors the information they need to make a decision on whether or not to extend a loan to you - and at what price or interest rate. The most common Consumer Reporting Agencies include TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, but the laws include any person or company who collects and sells your credit information to others.
In addition to compiling this information, there are specific rules governing how this information about you may be used. For example, all CRAs are required to:
- Send you your most recent credit score any time you request it (but it may not be the same score they sell to creditors!)
- Provide you with access to your full credit report upon request (you are allowed one free copy per year)
- Refrain from sending your credit information to a current or potential employer without your consent
- Allow you to dispute the credit information in your report
- Investigate any disputed charges or debts in your file
- Make a correction to any inaccurate information within 30 (or 45) days of a dispute notification
- Refrain from sending outdated credit information (over ten years old) in a current report
- Disclose your information only to parties who have a legitimate need
While it is the credit reporting agency’s duty to collect this information, they must rely on third parties (your creditors) for an accurate report of the amount that you owe and your payment history. Nearly any entity that you have had a financial connection with could supply information that affects your credit report, including the IRS (non-payment of taxes), a city government (an outstanding parking ticket), and so on.
As you can imagine, these third-parties are also bound by specific rules to protect your privacy and livelihood. Any party that provides information to a credit reporting agency must:
- Supply a CRA with only information that is known to be accurate
- Update and correct any inaccurate information that was given to the CRA in a timely manner
- Notify you within 30 days of any credit information that was given to a CRA that could negatively impact you
- Notify a CRA when you have closed your account
- Respond promptly to identity theft notices from a CRA
- Refrain from sending information about an account that was subject to identity theft
BUT: If one of your creditors has not followed proper protocol, you can only get meaningful relief by pursuing the CRA that is reporting that bad information.