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Arkansas State University

Consumer Information: Credit

The best way to protect yourself is to be educated on your rights and know how to avoid scams.

EQUAL CREDIT OPPORTUNITY ACT (ECOA)

  • You cannot be denied credit based on your race, sex, marital status, religion, age, national origin, or receipt of public assistance.

  • You have the right to have reliable public assistance considered in the same manner as other income.

  • If you are denied credit, you have a legal right to know why.

For more information visit Equal Credit Opportunity: Understanding Your Rights Under the Law.

FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT (FCRA)

  • You have the right to a free copy of your credit report

    • You can request a free credit report every 12 months from annualcreditreport.com.  This is the only website that gives you your free credit report as stated by law.  Other "free credit report" or "free credit score" websites often have a catch that may cost you money.

    • You are allowed a copy of your credit report every time you are denied credit.  You should receive a denial notice that includes contact information for a reporting company.  You must request you credit report within 60 days.

    • You are also allowed a copy of your credit report if you are unemployed and plan on looking for work, if you are on welfare or if you credit report is inaccurate due to fraud (including identity theft).

  • You have the right to ask who has been looking at your credit report

  • You have the right to file a dispute with the credit reporting agency and the original business.  Both the business and the credit reporting agency are obligated by law to investigate your claim.

DISPUTING CREDIT REPORT ERRORS

  • Contact BOTH the credit reporting agency and the original business in writing informing them of the mistake.  It's a good idea to send the letters through certified mail with return receipt requested so you know when the businesses receive your letter.

  • Include copies of documents to support your claim (i.e. receipts).  Never use the original documents.

  • The credit reporting agency must review the claim and forward all information to the original business - usually within 30 days.

  • After the investigation is complete, the credit reporting agency must give you the results in writing.
  • If the original business finds that there is a mistake in your credit report, it must notify all three nationwide credit reporting agencies.

  • If a mistake is found, you can request the credit reporting agency to notify everyone who has looked at your credit report in the last six months, including potential employers.

  • If no mistake is found and you still believe that the credit report is wrong, you can ask the credit reporting agency to include the dispute in your file.

ARKANSAS CREDIT REPORT SECURITY FREEZE ACT

Effective January 1, 2008, Arkansans have the right to place a “security freeze” on their credit reports, which will prohibit a consumer reporting agency from releasing information in their credit reports without express authorization. This is designed to prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in one's name without consent -- making identity theft less devastating. 

If you choose to place a security freeze, you will receive a PIN or password that you can use to remove the freeze or allow your credit report to be release for a limited amount of time. 

Things to know:

  • A security freeze slows down access to your credit report and may delay things such as loan approval.

  • Credit reporting agencies have the right to charge $10.00 to place the freeze and $10.00 to temporarily remove the freeze.  The fee will be waived if the consumer includes a copy of a police report showing identity theft.

  • The freeze will not effect companies that already have access to your credit report such as businesses where you have a line of credit.