Debtor and Creditor

Consumer Law Federal Credit Law FAQ

Q: What does the Equal Credit Opportunity Act cover?

  • A:The Equal Credit Opportunity Act ("ECOA") prohibits credit discrimination on the basis of sex, race, marital status, religion, national origin, age, or receipt of public assistance. Creditors may ask for this information (except religion) in certain situations, but may not use it to discriminate when deciding whether to grant you credit.

    The ECOA protects consumers who deal with companies that regularly extend credit, including banks, small loan and finance companies, retail and department stores, credit card companies and credit unions. Everyone who participates in the decision to grant credit, including real estate brokers who arrange financing, must follow this law. Businesses applying for credit are also protected by this law.

    Your rights under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act include:

    • You can't 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're denied credit, you have a legal right to know why

Q: What does the Fair Credit Reporting Act cover?

  • A:The Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") is designed to help ensure that credit reporting agencies furnish correct and complete information to businesses to use when evaluating your application.

    Your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act include the right to:

    • Receive a copy of your credit report. The copy of your report must contain all of the information in your file at the time of your request.
    • Know the name of anyone who received your credit report in the last year for most purposes or in the last two years for employment purposes
    • Have the name and address of any credit reporting agencie which was contact by any company that denies your application, provided the denial was based on information given by the credit reporting agency
    • A free copy of your credit report when your application is denied because of information supplied by a credit reporting agency. Your request must be made within 60 days of receiving your denial notice.
    • Add a summary explanation to your credit report if your dispute is not resolved to your satisfaction

    If you contest the completeness or accuracy of information in your credit report, you should file a dispute with the credit reporting agency and with the company that furnished the information to the credit reporting agency.

Q: What does the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") do

  • A:The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") applies to personal, family and household debts. This includes money owed for the purchase of a car, medical care or charge accounts. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from engaging in unfair, deceptive or abusive practices while collecting these debts.

    Your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act include:

    • Debt collectors may contact you only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
    • Debt collectors may not contact you at work if they know your employer disapproves
    • Debt collectors may not harass, oppress or abuse you
    • Debt collectors may not lie when collecting debts, such as falsely implying that you have committed a crime
    • Debt collectors must identify themselves to you on the phone
    • Debt collectors must stop contacting you if you ask them to in writing

Q: When do the Fair Credit Billing Act ("FCBA") and Electronic Fund Transfer Act ("EFTA") apply?

  • A:The Fair Credit Billing Act ("FCBA") and Electronic Fund Transfer Act ("EFTA") establish procedures for resolving mistakes on credit billing and electronic fund transfer account statements, including:

    • Charges or electronic fund transfers that you - or anyone you have authorized to use your account - have not made
    • Charges or electronic fund transfers that are incorrectly identified or show the wrong amount or date
    • Computation or similar errors
    • Failure to reflect payments, credits, or electronic fund transfers properly
    • Not mailing or delivering credit billing statements to your current address, as long as that address was received by the creditor in writing at least 20 days before the billing period ended
    • Charges or electronic fund transfers for which you request an explanation or documentation, due to a possible error

    The FCBA generally applies only to "open end" credit accounts - credit cards, revolving charge accounts (such as department store accounts) and overdraft checking accounts.

    The FCBA doesn't apply to loans or credit sales that are paid according to a fixed schedule until the entire amount is paid back, such as an automobile loan.

    The EFTA applies to electronic fund transfers, such as those involving automatic teller machines (ATMs), point-of-sale debit transactions and other electronic banking transactions.

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