What protections are available for consumers' financial data?

Many people have heard of FICO, the American public company that provides the credit scores of consumers to lenders and other persons or business entities with a legitimate need to see such information.

Very few people in Pennsylvania or elsewhere, though, are privy to the inside and material details regarding how the nation's reporting agencies -- those entities that compile consumer-related information and provide it, along with credit scores compiled by FICO, to entities such as banks, rental companies, auto dealerships and other creditors -- amass and disseminate such data.

Are there rules? Do consumers have protections in the event of credit-related errors that are reported or fraud that is committed by third parties who have unlawfully gained access to their records?

Indeed, there are, and they are set forth in a government summary of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

That legislation seeks to protect consumers by assuring the privacy and accuracy of all information contained on them that is held by consumer reporting agencies.

Many readers might immediately think of the so-called "Big Thee" reporting groups, namely, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. In addition to those entities, though, there are many other companies that collect and sell financial information about consumers to parties that are stated by the FCRA as having a "valid need" to peruse it.

Humans err, and it is thus hardly surprising that mistakes -- often egregious -- occur in the reporting and release of consumes' confidential financial information. Additionally, fraud is a huge problem where money issues are concerned, making it equally unsurprising that credit information is a major lure for identity thieves.

Consumers in Philadelphia and elsewhere throughout Pennsylvania and the country need to know that they can see their credit histories, make corrections and, importantly, take legal action when unlawful activity has occurred in connection with their personal information.

A proven consumer protection attorney can help them do that, by undertaking relevant research, contesting information as required, demanding changes to incorrect data and taking legal action against those who have been negligent or engaged in wrongdoing aimed at fraudulent enrichment.

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