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The Credit Reporting Rights of Cardholders

By Ruth Racey
Published: Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Credit reports are convenient and comprehensive records of Americans’ credit card transactions and histories. They are regularly updated records of the spending habits and financial status of cardholders across the country. Aside from that, these reports also contain sensitive information about private individuals. Because of this, the federal government regulates access to credit reports. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission authorizes only three credit agencies to collect data about people’s financial backgrounds.

Understandably, many Americans are concerned about privacy issues especially regarding credit reports. With so much information about cardholders in the hands of the three credit bureaus, the possibility of identity theft and privacy intrusions is making many consumers worry about the private information.

To address this concern, the government has enacted legislation to control and protect consumers from any privacy breaches. The law limits access to credit reports to very few individuals and institutions. This allows the credit reporting rights of cardholders to be upheld at all times.

Of course, consumers also have to be aware of their rights when it comes to credit reports and privacy issues. Because the lives of cardholders are accessible to certain people, it is crucial that they be aware of their privileges and special rights.

Most of the credit reporting rights of cardholders deals with the issue of privacy. However, some rights also give consumers the opportunity to report any inconsistencies or possible mistakes in their credit reports.

The most basic of the credit reporting rights of cardholders is their right to a free annual report from each of the three credit agencies. Cardholders can request each of the credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, to provide them with one copy of their report every year.

Cardholders can also demand to know who has access to their credit reports and who have accessed their records for the last six months. This allows the credit agencies to be transparent when dealing with the personal information of consumers.

One of the most important credit reporting rights of cardholders is the right to dispute or contest any discrepancies or inconsistencies in their record. Cardholders can point out possible errors or unauthorized purchases. They have to file written complaints with the credit agency that provided the report. Cardholders can also ask credit bureaus for explanation in case they find negative information on their records.

Finally, cardholders have the right to complain and take up their grievances to the appropriate government agency. In many cases, consumers can even file lawsuits against the credit agencies if they feel that their rights have been violated.

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