In a 2012 Federal Trade Commission Report it was discovered that on average, one in four Americans found at least one error on their credit report. When errors like this are discovered, it’s time to take action and dispute credit report. These errors may include account-related errors (late payments reported inaccurately or accounts reported as closed by the provider and not you), misrepresented errors (an account that was paid off still showing money owed), and personal information errors (wrong name listed or addresses where you have never lived).
What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that legislates and oversees credit reporting agencies (CRA). The FCRA protects consumers from inaccurate information being used against them. It includes guidelines on how financial information is collected, the specific reasons for which this information can be released, and who this information can be released to.
Consumers are guaranteed specific rights under the FCRA. These rights include:
- Access to your credit report – you may request one free report per year
- Limited access to those who have a reasonable need for your credit history, such as banks, insurance companies, and landlords
- Accurate reporting of your credit history
- Removal of outdated information
- Privacy of your medical information
- Removal from unsolicited credit offers
- Notification of possible errors
- Right to pursue damages incurred by incorrect information
- Your current credit score
Credit reporting agencies collect information regarding your credit and financial history. This information is then reported to potential employers and lenders in order to determine your financial reliability. There are three main credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Banks, credit unions and other agencies that report financial history are also bound by the FCRA.
Examples of FCRA Violations
These violations can be due to negligence and human error, or purposeful and willful deliberate intentions.
Negligent violations include reporting old information, reporting inaccurate information, and mistakenly combining your file with someone else who has a similar name, social security number or address, for example.
Deliberate violations include not following correct procedures for debt disputes, releasing private information to those who are not allowed access to it, and withholding notices regarding your credit information.
If these violations are not corrected or they continue to be followed, you may be able to sue for damages. These damages could be related to loss of credit opportunities, loss of employment or possible jobs, emotional distress, damage to your reputation and punitive damages.
How to Correct Your Credit Report
The following steps explain how to correct your credit report in three steps:
Step One – Obtain Your Credit Report
First, obtain a copy of your credit report. The most recent version of your credit report should help you identify any inaccuracies that show up on your report. You can get a free annual copy of your credit report from the three national credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) at Annual Credit Report.
Make sure to look for any information that seems incorrect to you and make a list of them.
Step Two – Write a Credit Report Dispute Letter
Contact the credit reporting agency in writing, informing them of the wrong or inaccurate information on your report. Clearly explain what needs to be corrected, and how it needs to be corrected (i.e. if your name is listed incorrectly, tell them your real name). Be sure to include copies of any documents that support your claim.
You may also want to include a copy of your credit report with the incorrect information circled to help the agency process your dispute letter more quickly and efficiently. Send the written letter by certified mail, and keep copies of everything you send to the credit reporting agency.
The credit reporting agency has 30 days upon receiving your letter to investigate and correct any inaccuracies that are on your credit report.
Step Three – File a Lawsuit Against the Credit Bureau
If the CRA does not respond to your letter within 30 days, you have the option to sue them to get the errors corrected. This is a complex process, and you may want to seek help from a credit report attorney to file the lawsuit for you.
We Connect Consumers to Credit Report Attorneys
A good way to keep your credit score true is to fix your credit report of any inaccurate information. It may be a good idea to seek help from an expert if it is your first time writing a dispute letter or filing a lawsuit against the credit bureau.
A credit report dispute attorney will offer helpful legal expertise regarding possible ways to fix your credit report. The attorney can also assist you in removing information that is harmful or could potentially harm your credit score.
Call us at (818) 697-4295 to be connected to a credit report attorney. The consultation is FREE!