Protecting Your Credit Rights

This document is intended to provide consumers with information regarding a specific topic. It is not meant to provide comprehensive information. For further questions, please contact the Consumer Affairs Division at (617) 635-3834.

Credit Reporting

As a Massachusetts consumer, you have the right to one free credit report per year. This report will allow you to see what is being reported about your credit history. If you have been denied credit, you should obtain a copy of your credit report to verify that the information is correct. You have the right to know which credit reporting agency prepared the report within sixty (60) days of being denied credit. In general, negative information over seven (7) years old is not included in the report. However, bankruptcy and some other information may be reported for up to ten (10) years.

To obtain a copy of your credit report or report credit fraud, contact one of the agencies below:

  • EXPERIAN 1-888-397-3742

  • TRANSUNION 1-800-888-4213 or to report FRAUD: 1-800-680-7289

  • EQUIFAX 1-800-685-1111 or to report FRAUD: 1-800-525-6285

How to Protect your Credit

  • Never give out pertinent information over the phone, for example: Social Security Numbers, Bank Account Numbers, Credit Card Numbers, or Debit Card Numbers.

  • Review your credit report periodically to ensure that the information is accurate and current

  • Assume debt responsibly

Your Debt Collection Rights

If you are having credit problems, it is important to know what creditors and collections agencies may and may not do to collect debts. Collection agencies may not:

  • call you at home more than 2 times for each debt in any 7-day period,

  • call you at a place other than your home (such as work) more than 2 times for each debt in any 30 day period,

  • call you at work if you have submitted a written request that they do not call work. Oral requests not to call at work are valid for only 10 days. Written requests are valid until you write to the creditor/agency to remove the restriction.

  • contact you directly if you have advised the creditor or collection agency an attorney

  • use profane or abusive language.

  • falsely threaten to take legal action against you.

  • Reveal information to anyone (friends, neighbors, relatives, or employers) about your debt, without your written consent.

  • solicit "post-dated" checks from the consumer.

  • not allow you, or your attorney to inspect any documents the creditor is relying on to prove that you owe the debt being collected.

Helpful Hints in Handling Debt

Many consumers use debt without fully understanding the consequences or the responsibilities. Always use debt wisely. If you are:

  • experiencing financial trouble and are falling behind paying your bills, you should always contact the creditor to work out a suitable payment arrangement,

  • explore the option of contacting a credit counseling service organization to create a debt repayment plan. In these plans, you work out a payment agreement with a counselor, and the service distributes your payments to the creditors.

  • thinking about consolidating your debts through loans and bankruptcy, make sure you understand the consequences. These are very serious steps and should be taken only after consultation with an attorney.

  • receiving unwanted credit card applications or junk mail, call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT or 1-888-567-8688 to opt out of the solicitation process

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