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Does the Fair Credit Reporting Act Work in Florida?

Chloe Meltzer | December 07, 2023

Summary: Does the Fair Credit Reporting Act work in Florida or are you on your own? Find out what laws Florida has in place to protect your personal credit data.

Have you received a letter from a bank denying you a loan because of bad credit when you were never late paying your previous loan? Is there a glaring inaccuracy on your credit report? If so, you will need to contact the reporting agency to check your credit report and find out where things went south.

When doing this, be aware that the Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you rights as a consumer to protect you against an abusive and incompetent credit reporting agency. Keep reading for more information on the Fair Credit Reporting Act in Florida.

The FCRA Regulates How Credit Bureaus Collect and Share Your Information

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that regulates how credit bureaus gather information. Its main goal is to ensure accurate and fair credit reporting. The law was enacted to protect consumers' rights against misleading or incorrect information by a credit bureau, resulting in economic damage or injury to the consumer.

To protect consumers, the FCRA produced guidelines that outline how credit bureaus can adequately collect and share an individual's information. Importantly, it also outlines the limitations for what the credit entity is allowed to obtain for the consumer's credit report and in what circumstances.

The credit reporting agencies, CRA's, are responsible for collecting, processing, and storing consumers' information and producing their credit score. The information that a credit reporting agency can obtain includes:

  • Past loans
  • Current debts
  • Payment history
  • Employment/business
  • Child support
  • Previous or current bankruptcy petitions
  • Previous or pending criminal records
  • Previous and present addresses

Your credit score will determine your creditworthiness. This will be the basis on which banks, credit unions, or other companies approve or deny your applications for loans, mortgages, credit cards, insurance, leases, or any other application that involves the use of credit.

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How the FCRA Works in Florida and How Additional Laws Protect Your Information

The Fair Credit Reporting Act in Florida works in almost the same manner as it does in other states. However, Florida has also enacted laws that prevent discrimination and abuse in the context of the consumer's credit report.

For example, in the case of insurance companies, if the insurer uses the applicant's credit report for purposes of underwriting and rating, the insurer must inform the consumer that their credit report is being requested. Any adverse decision related to the application must be properly conveyed to the applicant with the reason their application is being denied and the name, address, and contact information of the reporting agency from which they obtained the applicant's credit report.

Furthermore, no credit report request can be made based solely on the applicant's race, color, religion, marital status, age, gender, national origin, or income.

In cases of employment, an employer must seek written consent from the applicant before they can request the latter's credit report. No application for employment can be denied solely because of the applicant's credit report. Moreover, no employee may be terminated because of their credit report. In both cases, the applicant or employee must be allowed to be heard to explain the information in their credit report.

Employers are required to issue a pre-adverse notice when a credit report for an employee or applicant indicates that they are not qualified for the employment.

Finally, the consumer has the right to a security freeze on their credit report. In this instance, only the consumer can access the information in their file, and consent is required whenever another person or company requests their credit report or score.

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How the FCRA Benefits Consumers Like You

The primary purpose of the FCRA is to protect the rights of the consumer when misinformation may be used against them. They also seek to guarantee that every consumer's right to privacy is protected and not violated. See below for the rights of the consumer as established by the FCRA:

  • Access to Your Credit Report. The FCRA seeks to ensure every consumer has the right to know what is in their file.
  • Accuracy of Credit Reports. Consumers have the right to demand accurate and fair credit reports as the accuracy of the information entered in a credit report will significantly impact a consumer's creditworthiness.
  • Right to Dispute False or Incorrect Information in Your Credit Report. When incorrect information is entered in your credit report, a consumer may question and demand it is removed once the credit reporting agency confirms the false information.
  • Right to Demand Removal of False and Outdated Information. Negative information can only remain on a credit report for up to seven years, while a bankruptcy record can stay on your record for ten years. A criminal record can stay on your report indefinitely.
  • Limited Access to Your File. A consumer can access their credit report, but others are restricted from accessing it. The FCRA observes that only an entity with permissible purposes can obtain access to a consumer's credit report aside from the consumer. Usually, this is the company offering credit, the consumer's landlords, or for employment purposes.
  • Rights to Know Who Requested Your Credit Report. For credit purposes, a consumer has the right to know who has requested their credit report within the year. For employment purposes, the consumer has the right to know who has asked for it within the last two years.
  • Rights to be Informed if the Information in Your File has been Used Against You. Suppose you receive an adverse decision because of your credit report. In that case, the company who issued the unfavorable decision must inform you of the reason for the decision and give you the name, address, and contact number of the reporting agency that provided your information.
  • Your Account Numbers and Other Information Are Restricted. A consumer's social security number, bank accounts, and credit card numbers should not be disclosed. This also includes a prohibition against obtaining the consumer's medical information to be used in assessing creditworthiness.
  • Rights to Demand Damages. A consumer can file for damages against a credit reporting agency or anyone who uses the credit report in violation of the FCRA.

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The Fair Credit Reporting Act ensures the consumer has a fair chance when getting their credit application, employment, leases, and insurance applications approved. They provide accurate credit reports and protect the consumer's privacy of information rights. This prevents reporting agencies from abusing their power and discretion when gathering, storing, selling, and sharing the consumer's information.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal law that guarantees the consumer's information's fairness, accuracy, and privacy. Each state may also enact a supplemental law that will provide a stricter and more appropriate application of the FCRA in their state. Ultimately, these laws aim to protect consumers' rights and prevent all acts of discrimination and inequality. You can use your newfound knowledge of the FCRA and supplemental state laws in Florida to ensure accurate credit reporting.

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