Credit Reporting Problems

Attorney in Fairhope AL
Credit Reporting Problems: 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. Credit Reporting Problems

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 a 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.

Credit Reporting FAQ’s*

*Referring to Credit Reporting Agencies as CRA and Fair Credit Reporting Act as FCRA

A lady called today and said I owed them $ 8000.  They threatened to take my home and said they had a big file on me at the police office. This is the first time I ever heard from them.

No. This is a typical threat from collection agencies. This is also a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) violation. They cannot threaten you with actions that they cannot legally make. You should contact an attorney in your area that handles those types of cases or feels free to contact my firm.

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 sign 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 with 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.

Q. I filed bankruptcy 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 don’t remove the debt, then you need to contact a lawyer who specializes in these kinds 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.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law, was created to help protect the privacy of information in the files and reports that are created by each “consumer reporting agency” (CRA). This information shows whether or not you pay your bills on time, what credit accounts you have open or closed, and your long-term payment history.

In addition, the report provides personal information including social security number, address, phone number and place of employment. If you apply for a credit card, bank or another loan, or seek housing through rental, those you apply to will need to see your report. The FCRA gives you specific rights, some are outlined below. You may have additional rights under state law.

Contact the CRAs listed under “credit” or “credit rating and reporting.” Because more than one CRA may have a file on you, call each until you locate all the agencies maintaining your file. The three major national credit bureaus are:

P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
(800) 685-1111.

P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013
(888) EXPERIAN (888-397-3742).

Trans Union
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
(800) 888-4213.

In addition, anyone who takes action against you in response to a report supplied by a CRA — such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment — must give you the name, address, and telephone number of the CRA that provided the report.

Yes, if you ask for it. The CRA must tell you everything in your report, including medical information, and in most cases, the sources of the information. The CRA also must give you a list of everyone who has requested your report within the past year — two years for employment related requests.

Sometimes. There’s no charge if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance or employment, and you request your report within 60 days of receiving the notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the CRA. In addition, you’re entitled to one free report a year (1) you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days, (2) you’re on welfare, or (3) your report is inaccurate because of fraud. Otherwise, a CRA may charge you up to $9 for a copy of your report.

Under the new law, both the CRA and the information provider have responsibilities for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To protect all your rights under this law, contact both the CRA and the information provider.

First, tell the CRA in writing what information you believe is inaccurate. CRAs must reinvestigate the items in question – usually within 30 days — unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all relevant data you provide about the dispute to the information provider. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the CRA, it must investigate, review all relevant information provided by the CRA, and report the results to the CRA. If the information provider finds the disputed information to be inaccurate, it must notify all nationwide CRAs so that they can correct this information in your file.

When the reinvestigation is complete, the CRA must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or removed, the CRA cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies its accuracy and completeness, and the CRA gives you a written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the provider.

Second, tell the creditor or other information provider in writing that you dispute an item. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider then reports the item to any CRA, it must include a notice of your dispute. In addition, if you are correct — that is, if the information is inaccurate — the information provider may not use it again.

A reinvestigation may not resolve your dispute with the CRA. If that’s the case, ask the CRA to include your statement of the dispute in your file and in future reports. If you request, the CRA also will provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of the old report in the recent past. There usually is a fee for this service.

If you tell the information provider that you dispute an item, a notice of your dispute must be included anytime the information provider reports the item to a CRA.

Only if you say it’s okay. A CRA may not supply information about you to your employer, or to a prospective employer, without your consent.

Not without your approval.

“Investigative consumer reports” are detailed reports that involve interviews with your neighbors or acquaintances about your lifestyle, character, and reputation. They may be used in connection with insurance and employment applications.

You’ll be notified in writing when a company orders such a report. The notice will explain your right to request certain information about the report from the company you applied to. If your application is rejected, you may get additional information from the CRA. However, the CRA does not have to reveal the sources of the information

“Investigative consumer reports” are detailed reports that involve interviews with your neighbors or acquaintances about your lifestyle, character, and reputation. They may be used in connection with insurance and employment applications.

You’ll be notified in writing when a company orders such a report. The notice will explain your right to request certain information about the report from the company you applied to. If your application is rejected, you may get additional information from the CRA. However, the CRA does not have to reveal the sources of the information

Seven years. There are certain exceptions:

  • Information about criminal convictions may be reported without any time limitation.
  • Bankruptcy information may be reported for 10 years.
    Information reported in response to an application for a job with a salary of more than $75,000 has no time limit.
  • Information reported because of an application for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance has no time limit.
  • Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.

No. Only people with a legitimate business need, as recognized by the FCRA. For example, a company is allowed to get your report if you apply for credit, insurance, employment, or to rent an apartment.

Creditors and insurers may use CRA file information as a basis for sending you unsolicited offers. These offers must include a toll-free number for you to call if you want to remove your name and address from lists for two years; completing a form that the CRA provides for this purpose will keep your name off the lists permanently.

You may sue a CRA, a user or — in some cases — a provider of CRA data, in state or federal court for most violations of the FCRA. If you win, the defendant will have to pay damages and reimburse you for attorney fees to the extent ordered by the court.

Yes. If your credit application was denied, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act requires creditors to specify why — if you ask. For example, the creditor must tell you whether you were denied because you have “no credit file” with a CRA or because the CRA says you have “delinquent obligations.” The ECOA also requires creditors to consider additional information you might supply about your credit history. You may want to find out why the creditor denied your application before you contact the CRA.

Contact an attorney to see if you have a legal recourse in the matter. Also, contact the FTC to report any violations.

Consumer Response Center — FCRA
Federal Trade Commission

Washington, D.C. 20580.
For More Information

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Federal Trade Commission
Bureau of Consumer Protection
Office of Consumer and Business Education