The Florida Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act, FCRA, is a federal law that offers a number of credit-related rights to state residents, notes the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. A credit report includes both on-time and delinquent bill-paying history; banks, landlords and some potential employers use these reports to determine whether or not to enter a financial relationship with the applicant.

Free Annual Credit Reports

All Florida residents can access their credit reports for free once a year. This service, part of the FCRA, that was first offered to people living in Florida in 2005. If someone is rejected for credit, an apartment, a job or believes he is a victim of identity theft, then he can request additional free credit reports throughout the year as long as he provides evidence supporting the situation.

Security Freeze

You can place limitations on access to your credit report under the FCRA, as well as Florida law s. 501.005. This “security freeze” bars creditors or other third parties from accessing your credit reports without verifying your identity; this protection is especially helpful if you suspect you are a victim of identity theft. But the security freeze does not apply to current creditors or collection agencies attempting to secure payment of a legitimately owed debt, notes the credit bureau Experian.

Credit Reporting Time Frame

If you don’t pay your bills on time or at all, your credit report will suffer as a result, warns the Office of the Attorney General of Florida. Negative bill-paying history affects your credit rating for seven years from the date of the original missed payment; this rule also applies if you filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Under the FCRA, some types of negative credit events such as Chapter 7 bankruptcy reflect on your credit rating for 10 years from the date of filing. On-time payments report indefinitely for the life of the account and for at least 10 years from the date the account is closed.

Disputing Errors

The FCRA allows Florida residents the right to dispute any inaccurate information reflected on their credit reports. The type of error can range from an incorrect address to an arrest or late credit account payment that never really occurred. Florida residents must write or call the credit reporting agency involved; the agency then has 30 days to investigate the validity of the information. If the agency keeps reporting the information and it is provably inaccurate, then the Florida resident can sue the credit bureau.