The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) outlines your right to have inaccurate information on your credit report corrected or deleted in a timely manner. Unfortunately, things do not always work out that way.
A recent study by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) showed 8% of Americans had something inaccurate remaining on their credit report even long after they requested it be fixed. If these findings can be generalized to the rest of the adult population, it would mean over 20 million people have unresolved errors on their credit reports.
If you are one of these people, consider each of the following actions:
Start a new dispute with additional information. The creditor is likely to consider a duplicate dispute as frivolous and not spend any time re-investigating. They cannot ignore a new dispute, however, if new information is provided. Create a timeline and paper trail by conducting all communication in writing.
Escalate your dispute with the creditor. If initial attempts to correct the information have not worked, escalate your complaint to the president or CEO. Let them know that something was not investigated properly and supply them with the evidence.
Contact the credit reporting agency directly. All three of the credit reporting agencies accept disputes by phone, email and snail mail. They will investigate your matter with the creditor within 30 days and amend any disputed information they find to be untrue or unverifiable.
File complaints with the appropriate agencies. If it happened to you, it is probably happening to others. Get the law involved by contacting the agencies that intervene. The FTC and Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) are the proper starting points. At the state level, contact your Attorney General or State Consumer Protection Agency. It’s not uncommon to get a member of congress involved; they write the laws and have ways of getting the FTC or CFPB to take action.
Add an explanatory statement to your credit report. The FCRA entitles you to add an explanatory statement to your report for these situations. The credit reporting agency is required to include the explanatory statement with any report that has the disputed information. Best to keep your explanation short; they routinely edit the longer ones.
Consider suing the creditor or credit reporting agency. Could you show damages? Did the false information cost you a job, housing, or otherwise damage your reputation? Creditors are protected by extensive liability exceptions in the FCRA; suing the creditor is possible, but complicated. The odds are better for suing a credit reporting agency, especially if they continued to share the false information even after you requested a correction. Best not to wait; there are time limits for filing these types of lawsuits.
Getting advice from an attorney that handles consumer protection cases can be helpful for anyone struggling to fix an erroneous credit report, not just people that plan on filing a lawsuit. These situations can be complicated and tense. It’s high-stakes. Ruined credit can have far-reaching and long-lasting negative consequences.
The team at The Law Offices of Jeffrey Lohman specializes in consumer protection law and FCRA enforcement. Let us put our expertise to work in fixing your credit report and clearing your name. Contact us for help today.