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Protecting your credit rights

Protecting your credit rights

We work with the Massachusetts attorney general to educate consumers on a variety of topics. Learn about your credit rights and fair debt collection practices.


You have the right to one free credit report every year. Your credit report shows your history, like collections and credit inquiries. It does not show your credit score.

If you applied for credit and got denied, you should get a copy of your credit report to make sure all the information is correct. You have the right to know who reported to the creditor within 60 days of the denial.

Generally, negative information — like a collection account —  stays on your report for seven years. Some information, like bankruptcies, will stay on your report up to 10 years.

You can contact the three major credit bureaus to get your reports:

  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-800-888-4213. Call 1-800-680-7289 to report fraud.
  • Equifax:  1-800-685-1111. Call 1-800-525-6285 to report fraud.

Never give out important information over the phone. This includes:

  • Social Security Numbers
  • bank account numbers
  • credit card numbers, and
  • debit card numbers.

Creditors and debt collection agencies must follow certain rules when trying to collect debt from you. They are NOT allowed to:

  • call you at home more than twice in a seven-day period
  • call you at work or elsewhere more than twice in a 30-day period
  • call you at work if you've filled out a written request not to call you at work, and
  • contact you directly if you've told them you have an attorney to handle your debts.

When dealing with you, creditors are also NOT allowed to:

  • use profane or abusive language
  • falsely threaten to take you to court or take other legal action
  • reveal information about your debt to anyone else without your consent
  • ask for post-dated checks from you, and
  • withhold documents from you or your attorney that they intend to use to collect the debt.

Many people use credit without understanding what getting into too much debt can do to them. Keep these tips in mind to handle your debt:

  • If you're falling behind on your bills, contact the creditor to work out a payment deal.
  • If you have a lot of debt, consider contacting a debt counseling service. These groups can help you consolidate your debt and work out deals with creditors.
  • You can also take out a loan for your debt or file for bankruptcy. You should speak with an attorney first, because these options can really hurt your credit score.
  • If you're getting credit card applications and junk mail that you don't want, call 1-888-567-8688.
Still have questions? Contact:
Consumer Affairs and Licensing
1 City Hall Square
Room 817
Boston, MA 02201-2039
United States