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Correction of Personal Information

What Is a Correction of Personal Information? 

Correction of personal information refers to consumers’ right to correct inaccurate personal information about them. The right to correction includes information held by various institutions, including government agencies, healthcare providers, and financial institutions. 

Several laws in the US govern the correction of personal information and protect individuals’ rights regarding the accuracy of their personal data. 

Third-party definition

If you think the personal information an organization or agency holds about you is incorrect, then contact the organization or agency and ask them to correct it. – Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

US Federal Laws Governing the Correction of Personal Information 

There are three key US federal laws that address consumers’ right to correct their personal information. 

The Privacy Act of 1974

The Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal US law that governs the collection, use, maintenance, and dissemination of personally identifiable information held about individuals by government agencies. 

The act grants individuals the right to review what personal information federal government agencies have on them and request the correction of inaccurate, irrelevant, or incomplete records. 

The Fair Credit Reporting Act 

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal US law that requires credit reporting agencies (CRAs) to protect the accuracy, confidentiality, and relevance of consumers’ personal information. 

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers have several rights, including the right to know what’s in their files and the right to dispute information within these files that’s incorrect, inaccurate, or unverifiable. 

CRAs must remove or correct disputed information, typically within 30 days. 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal US law that protects sensitive patient data. 

HIPAA gives patients a legal right to access their protected health information (PHI) from HIPAA-covered entities and correct any errors they find. HIPAA-covered entities generally have 60 days to respond to patient requests. 

US State Laws Governing the Correction of Personal Information 

Several state laws in the US allow consumers to ask businesses to correct their personal information. These include: 

  • The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
  • Virginia’s Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA)
  • Colorado Privacy Act (CPA)
  • The Connecticut Data Privacy Act (CTDPA)
  • Montana Consumer Data Privacy Act (MTCDPA) 
  • The Tennessee Information Protection Act (TIPA)
  • The Oregon Consumer Privacy Act (OCPA) 
  • The Texas Data Privacy and Security Act (TDPSA)
  • The Indiana Consumer Data Protection Act (INCDPA)
  • The Delaware Personal Data Privacy Act (DPDPA) 

Note: Just because a state has a consumer privacy law does not automatically mean consumers have the right to amend data a business might have on them. For example, neither the Utah Consumer Privacy Act (UCPA) nor the Iowa Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA) gives consumers the right to correct inaccuracies in their data. 

Why Is Correcting Personal Information Important? 

If an institution holds inaccurate or incorrect information about you, it can negatively impact your opportunities. For example, inaccurate information in credit reports can have an adverse impact on credit scores, interest rates, and loan eligibility. 

Similarly, incorrect data in data broker databases can lead to the denial of rental applications, loss of employment, and higher interest rates. 

Incorrect information can also be a sign of (or a result of) identity theft or fraud. For instance, errors in your medical records could indicate medical identity theft, which could result in denial of treatment or bills that aren’t yours. If you are trying to recover from identity theft, you need to correct this information.

An institution having inaccurate information, like addresses or phone numbers, on file could also prevent you from accessing certain services or benefits.