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What You Can Do If Your Financial Information Was Obtained Illegally: Your Rights as a Consumer

If you are in debt, you may notice that you have started to receive mail from companies that claim to be able to eliminate this debt quickly. (Click here to read more on how we can help.) Unfortunately, most of these letters are at best misleading, and at worst, they can be overtly fraudulent. If they claim to know personal financial information or reference your credit score, they may have accessed this information illegally.

While it can be tempting to just throw this mail away and ignore it, you may want to think about taking action. You have a right to privacy, and as a consumer, you have other rights that should protect you from invasions of privacy.

Legal Vs. Illegal Access To Your Credit Report

Generally, you have to give permission to any company or individual who wants to access your credit score before they can pull the information. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, only a company planning to offer you insurance or credit, such as a bank, or landlords or utilities companies, a company with which you have an existing debt, an employer or prospective employer, a court, or a law enforcement agency. Even these entities can only look at your credit under certain circumstances. A “potential” creditor should only access your credit report if you are actively seeking a loan or other service.

Companies that are soliciting you through the mail should not fall into this category. If you have not initiated contact, you should be protected from them pulling this information. Fraudulent credit repair companies in particular should have no access to your credit. While some of them may pretend to be related to a valid governmental organization, such as the IRS, never give permission through these letters to your credit report. A real government agency would be automatically granted access.

How You Can Assert Your Rights

If your credit has been damaged in any way by illegal accessing of your credit report, or even if they are simply harassing you with endless junk mail, you have the right as a consumer to take action. The Credit Repair Organization act gives you the right to sue for both actual losses and punitive damages, whether or not you actually hired and paid the scam artists. Furthermore, you have the right to report suspicious companies or actions to the Federal Trade Commission and then find out about the results of any investigation.

No matter who the entity is that ultimately accessed your credit report illegally, you have the right to punish them for in fringing your privacy. They may even be actively hurting real credit repair that you can do legally. If you suspect that someone has viewed your credit report illegally, you can assert your right for justice. Come talk to us at Cleveland Bankruptcy Attorneys or call us at (216) 586-6600. We have years of experience defending the rights of clients who have been hurt by other people’s financial crimes. One of our Cleveland bankruptcy lawyers can walk you through this process.

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