Your Credit Rights
When it comes to credit, not everyone understands what they are legally entitled to do or not do in their financial life. There are so many rules and restrictions, it can be overwhelming and confusing to just about anyone! Below are some basic credit-related rights everyone should be aware of.
The Name on Your Credit Report
It is your right to have your credit reports reflect your birth name, your married name, and/or your hyphenated name (your and your spouse’s last names combined. When changing your name, be sure that your credit reports are reflecting both your older and newer information. If they are not, contact the credit bureaus right away.
No Co-signer needed
You have the right to get credit without a co-signed as long as you meet the creditor’s standards. Never let any creditor tell you that you must have a co-signer just because of your age or gender.
Pick your co-signer
If you do need/want someone to co-sign for a credit or loan, you are not restricted to your spouse. Anyone who meets the creditor’s standards can co-sign with you.
Keep Your Accounts
You can never be forced to relinquish an account based on a legal name change, marital status, age, or retirement. This does not apply if the creditor has evidence that you are unwilling or unable to pay.
Know Your Application Results
You have the right to know why your credit or loan application was rejected. The creditor must give you a notice that tells you either the specific reasons for your rejection or your right to learn the reasons if you ask within 60 days. Acceptable reasons include: “Your income was low,” or “You haven’t been employed long enough.” Unacceptable reasons are: “You didn’t meet our minimum standards,” or “You didn’t receive enough points on our credit-scoring system.” Indefinite and vague reasons are illegal, so ask the creditor to be specific.
Understand the Terms You Were Offered
You have the right to understand why you may have been less favorable terms that what you applied for even if you were approved. Ask for details. Examples of less favorable terms include higher finance charges or less money than you requested.
Closed Accounts/Change in Terms
You have the right to find out why an account was closed or the terms of the account were made less favorable unless the account was inactive or delinquent.
A Special Note To Those Who Share Finances
If you share finances with anyone (i.e your spouse or partner), you need to be sure that your credit is being reported correctly. There are two common reasons why a partner or spouse may not have their accounts correctly reported: you lost your credit history when you married and changed you name, or creditors reported joint accounts in one partner’s name only
If you’re married, divorced, separated, or widowed, contact your local credit bureau(s) to make sure all relevant information is in a file under your own name.
If You Suspect Discrimination
- Complain to the creditor. Make it known you’re aware of your rights and the creditor may find an error or reverse the decision.
- Check with your state Attorney General to see if the creditor violated state equal credit opportunity laws. Your state may decide to prosecute the creditor.
- Bring a case in federal district court. If you win, you can recover damages, including punitive damages. You also can obtain compensation for attorney’s fees and court costs. An attorney can advise you on how to proceed.
- Join with others and file a class action suit. You may recover punitive damages for the group of up to $500,000 or one percent of the creditor’s net worth, whichever is less.
Report violations to the appropriate government agency. If you’re denied credit, the creditor must give you the name and address of the agency to contact. While some of these agencies don’t resolve individual complaints, the information you provide helps them decide which companies to investigate.