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Credit reports are basically records of an individual's payment history. These are maintained by the credit bureaus and sold by them to various financial institutions, banks, credit card companies, etc. The credit report contains all details such as credit cards, debit cards, personal loans, repayment history, etc. This is a ready estimator of sorts and most of the financial institutions, banks, prospective landlords, etc., will look into the credit history of a person. These records play a vital role while availing loans such as auto loans, mortgages, etc. Hence any error in the report will adversely affect the concerned individual. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is designed to help consumers by ensuring that the credit bureaus furnish accurate information to various businesses while evaluating an application.

Consumer rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act are as follows:

• The consumer has a right to receive the copy of their credit report. At the time of the request the file must contain all the relevant information in the copy of the report.

• The consumer has the right to know the names of those who obtained the individual's credit report either in the previous year for general purposes or within the last two years for the purpose of employment.

• In case the application has been rejected or any adverse action has been taken companies or institutions will have to provide the name and addresses of the credit reporting agencies it contacted and based on whose report the application has been denied.

• The consumer has a right to a free copy of the credit report once a year from the three credit reporting agencies.

• The consumer also has a right to a free copy in case the application has been denied due to the information supplied by the reporting agency. The consumer must make the request within a 60-day period of receiving the denial.

• If the consumer contests the information provided by the credit bureau and questions the accuracy of the report then, both the credit bureau as well as the "furnisher of information" such as banks, financial institutions, credit card companies, etc., are legally bound to investigate into the matter and clear the dispute with the consumer. This must be supported with a written explanation of the same.

• The consumer has the right to add a detailed summary to the credit report explaining the dissatisfaction in case the dispute is not resolved to the consumer's satisfaction.