What Is the Statute of Limitations for FCRA Violations?

Last Updated:
April 10, 2023

If you are getting ready to clean up your credit, if you’ve already started, or if you’ve been at it for a while, you may have seen one or more examples of a creditor or credit bureau violating the regulations or protections outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA for short. 

The FCRA is a federal law enacted in 1970 that was designed to help protect consumers by placing regulations on the collection, dissemination, and use of the information contained in consumer credit files, and setting penalties for violations of the Act. 

We’re going to look at the statute of limitations for FCRA violations and give you some valuable insights into your legal rights and potential legal remedies. In the end, we’ll talk about what to do if you’ve gone through the dispute process and simply haven’t gotten the resolution that you are owed, when legal action may become an option.

The FCRA - What It Does

The Fair Credit Reporting Act was created to help ensure the accuracy, fairness, and general privacy of the consumer information contained in the files of the 3 major credit bureaus. The sets the guidelines for creditors and credit reporting agencies, who are all responsible for providing complete and accurate information about consumers. 

Additionally, the FCRA guarantees consumers the right to:

  • Access their credit reports at any time
  • Obtain a free copy of their credit report from each of the 3 credit bureaus every 12 months
  • Dispute inaccurate or incomplete information
  • Be informed about who has accessed their credit reports
  • Obtain their credit scores

Different Types Of FCRA Violations

When talking about the statute of limitations for FCRA violations, it’s helpful to understand what violations are and what constitutes one. There are several types of FCRA violations, including but not limited to:

  • Inaccurate Reporting 

Credit reporting bureaus as well as creditors must ensure that the information in a consumer’s credit report is as accurate and complete as they can verify. 

  • Failure To Investigate Disputes

Bureaus are required to thoroughly investigate all disputes raised by consumers within 30 days. This can mean correcting or updating the information, or deleting it if it cannot be verified or resolved within 30 days.

  • Unauthorized Access To Credit Reports

One of the major purposes of the FCRA is to provide consumers with a degree of privacy, so there are provisions to prevent unauthorized parties from accessing consumer credit information. The FCRA stipulates that only parties with a permissible purpose, like lenders or employers, can access a consumer’s private credit report. 

  • Failure To Provide Notice

The regulations established in the FCRA state that creditors must provide written notice to consumers when negative information is going to be reported to one or more of the credit bureaus. 

  • Outdated Information

Part of providing complete and accurate information is ensuring that the information is not out of date. In most cases, the bureaus are prohibited from reporting negative items for longer than 7 years. There are some exceptions, however, like bankruptcies, 

Statute of Limitations for FCRA Violations

The statute of limitations is a legal concept that effectively establishes a time limit within which one party must be sure to bring legal action before their opportunity expires. If legal proceedings are not initiated within this period, they are usually barred from being brought at a later date.

When talking about the FCRA, the statute of limitations will determine how long a consumer will have to file a lawsuit for those same violations. There are generally two particular time frames to be aware of if you were considering legal action, a two-year limitation, and a five-year limitation. 

  • Two-Year Limitation

A consumer must bring legal action within two years from the date that the violation was discovered, or that they could have discovered it through reasonable due diligence.

  • Five-Year Limitation

The consumer will have five years to file any 

Legal Remedies for FCRA Violations

In situations where you feel your rights under the FCRA may have been violated, or if you’ve already looked into the potential violations on your reports, you may be able to prove damages in some cases. Here are several legal remedies that you may find available.

  • Actual Damages

These are real, economic, or monetary losses that you’ve suffered as a result of the violation. This is often one of the easier things to prove in a claim.

  • Statutory Damages 

In cases where the actual damages are difficult to reasonably quantify, you might be awarded statutory damages of between $100 and $1,000 per violation, at the discretion of the court.

  • Punitive Damages

Sometimes, the violations are particularly flagrant or egregious or show evidence that the defendant acted willfully. In these cases, the court may award punitive damages to further punish the defendant and provide an incentive for compliance in the future. 

  • Attorney’s Fees & Court Costs

Taking Action

To begin fighting against inaccuracies on your credit report with the might of the FCRA, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  • When you’ve found inaccurate information, dispute the information directly with the bureau that is reporting it. You will need to provide documentation to prove your side of the dispute.
  • Document your efforts every step of the way, including all communications and copies of everything in your dispute file. 
  • Review your credit reports regularly to ensure that there are no surprises or errors that have appeared since the last ones.
  • Partner with an attorney if your dispute remains unresolved because your rights under the FCRA may have been violated and you may be entitled to compensation for damages.

Fair Credit Can Help You Seek The Damages You May Be Entitled To Recover

Understanding the statute of limitations for FCRA violations is critical to safeguarding your rights and keeping your credit report accurate. If you’ve taken action through all of the conventional channels and your disputes still aren’t being resolved, you may have grounds for legal action. Reach out to Fair Credit today to learn more and have the details of your case evaluated.

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