The following information is solely provided to give you a general idea of what you can do to dispute any errors on your credit file. If after reading the information below, you believe you need a lawyer or need further information, please contact our office for a free consultation.
What is a Credit Report?
If you’ve ever applied for a charge account, a personal loan, insurance, or a job, there’s a file about you. This file contains information on where you work and live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy.
Companies that gather and sell this information are called Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs). The most common type of CRA are the credit bureaus, such as Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. The information CRAs sell about you to creditors, employers, insurers, and other businesses is called a consumer report.
Your Protection: The Fair Credit Reporting Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, is designed to promote accuracy and ensure the privacy of the information used in consumer reports. Recent amendments to the Act expand your rights and place additional requirements on CRAs. Businesses that supply information about you to CRAs and those that use consumer reports also have new responsibilities under the law.
How to Dispute Inaccurate Information on your Credit Report
- Order your most recent credit report from the government website or directly from the CRAs and determine exactly how the inaccurate information is reporting.
- Once you have identified the information, draft a dispute letter to the CRA’s – make sure to be detailed in your dispute, include all account names and numbers that you are disputing and make sure the letter is clear to understand. For a sample dispute letter, click here – Sample_Dispute_Letter
- Include your personal information so the CRAs can identify you and include copies of all documents related to your dispute, including police reports or affidavits if you are a victim of Identity Theft. Also include a copy of your driver license and social security card.
- If you are a victim of Identity Theft, contact your local police and file a report or fill out a Federal Trade Commission Identify Theft Victims’ Complaint and Affidavit. For a copy, click here – Affidavit
- Once you have finished your letter, make copies of everything you are sending and mail the letter and supporting documents to the dispute address of the CRA you are sending it to. Make sure to mail the letter by certified mail and keep a copy of this for your records.
- Wait 30 days for their response, and if the information is not removed, do this all over again. Sometimes, 3 or 4 disputes are needed if the CRA fails to remove the information the first or second time.
- Do not send a dispute online. There is limited amount of information that you can provide about your dispute on the online forms. Also, the CRA’s will not have a clear understanding of your problem and you will have only an email notice that your dispute was sent. It is no coincidence that the CRA’s have set this process in a way that makes it more difficult for you to dispute inaccurate information.
- Be patient and good luck. If after your disputes, the CRA’s have failed to remove the information that you believe is inaccurate, contact our office to discuss your case and your rights under the FCRA.
Here are some questions consumers commonly ask about consumer reports and CRAs — and the answers. Note that you may have additional rights under state laws. Contact your state Attorney General or local consumer protection agency for more information.
FAQ’s Mortgage Fraud/Foreclosure
Can a creditor obtain a garnishment and drain my existing bank account to “0” while I am making payments towards fulfilling my debt obligation?
A creditor can only garnish if they file a suit and get a judgment from the court. After they have done this, then they can garnish your bank accounts to pay off the judgment.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Question 1
Q. The store Motherhood Maternity signed me up for a credit card without my permission or knowledge. The request was denied and I only knew of this application when the letter from Barclays Bank arrived stating such. In fact, I’ve never even stepped foot in the store. My husband bought me some items there and I guess signed me up for a magazine or mailing list or something along those lines. I have had a hard time getting the inquiry removed, as the credit card company (Juniper/Barclays Bank) claims that they have informed TransUnion of the unauthorized application but TransUnion says they have yet to get the request. This debacle dates back to December 09. It is now May 2010. What are my rights, what can I do and is there enough merit for a lawsuit against any or all of these entities?
A. You have certain rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) You need to dispute this inquiry yourself by sending a dispute letter detailing the event and why it was an unauthorized inquiry to Trans Union and any other of the credit reporting agencies (CRA), Equifax and Experian if they are reporting the inquiry as well. The CRA’s have 30 days to investigate and provide you the results of that investigation. If it is still reporting, you can dispute once again, (I usually advise my clients to do at least 2 disputes) and if the results still do not remove the inquiry, you can look at filing a lawsuit against the CRA who is still reporting it if the inquiry is causing you damages.
FCRA – Disputes to the credit reporting agencies
Q. I filed bankrutcy in 1977 and owed my federal credit union. This debt was submitted when I filed bankruptcy. I have since have built my credit score. Last week I was trying to purchase a car and the dealership applied for credit for me through this credit union. I was turned down because they still had on their books a loan that I had over 30 years ago, How long should credit union hold this against me? I spoke with someone and the lady said I would never be granted a loan. Is this the law regarding credit? I don’t think everyone is treated that way? You would think I committed murder or something.
A: Negative accounts are only supposed to report on your credit for 7 years. What you should do is send a dispute to the credit reporting agencies (Equifax/Trans Union/Experian) who are reporting this debt and ask them to remove it. Do a detailed dispute letter, identifying the account, and also in that letter let them know of the damages this has caused you. Make sure you provide evidence of who you are, copy of DL, SS# and card. Send this by certified mail and make sure you save copies of everything. The agencies have 30 days to respond. If they dont remove the debt, then you need to contact a lawyer who specializes in these kind of cases as now the agency and the creditor are in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and possibly other consumer protection statutes. Good luck.