Errors on credit reports are common, and they can cause serious problems for the consumer. They may negatively impact your credit score, renting an apartment, or increase fees and interest on car loans and mortgages. Filing a lawsuit against credit bureaus, banks and debt collectors is often the best way for consumers to get inaccurate or out-of-date entries off their record.
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was created to help consumers dispute inaccuracies on their credit report. These regulations cover a broad scope and include methods used to collect consumer information, sources of the information, and the accuracy of the information. The statute also requires both credit reporting agencies (CRAs) and companies that provide information to consumer reporting agencies, or furnishers, to investigate disputes and make corrections or deletions as appropriate. Furnishers such as banks, credit bureaus, and broker or real estate data organizations, are required to correct, delete, or verify information within 30-45 days once they receive dispute details.
The FCRA also allows consumers to directly ask the court to order a correction if these organizations don’t fulfill their obligations under the law. Courts may even award money damages when appropriate. If you suspect a credit agency or furnisher of wrongdoing, consider filing a dispute in order to protect yourself and your rights.
Filing a dispute
Before you file your dispute, begin regularly reviewing your credit reports for errors. Despite an increase in credit card fraud attempts during the pandemic and data breaches like the massive Equifax breach in 2016, most people do not regularly check their credit reports. In fact, a recent survey conducted by CompareCards revealed that just 33% of Americans checked their credit reports in the past year. Yet, checking your credit reports has never been easier. Since the pandemic, all three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – have offered free weekly credit reports, instead of yearly, through the website AnnualCreditReport.com.
If you find errors or discrepancies in your report, you can send a dispute letter to the credit reporting agency. The CRA has 30-45 days to investigate the dispute. If the investigation finds the CRA made a mistake, then it must delete or correct the entry. But even if the CRA takes the appropriate action, sometimes a deletion or correction can reappear; so keep monitoring your report. Furthermore, inaccurate information on your report is also often not sufficient enough to establish that the CRA or furnisher has done anything wrong. It can be tricky to dispute credit reports, but fortunately there are steps you can take.
What if the dispute doesn’t resolve the issue
After you submit your dispute, the CRA or furnisher is obligated to investigate. When the credit reporting agency or the furnisher refuses or fails to take appropriate action, you may be able to sue one or both. A court may order the credit bureau, the furnisher, or both to update records and stop reporting an item, award damages suffered as a result of the failure, or to pay court costs or your attorneys’ fees.
You may also sue a CRA for negligent or willful noncompliance with the law within two years after you discover the harmful behavior or within five years after the harmful behavior occurs. Depending on the violation, you might be entitled to up to $1,000 in statutory damages. Furthermore, you may also be able to pursue sanctions for violation of a bankruptcy discharge if an item is willfully misreported after you declare bankruptcy.
One bad mark on your credit report can have a corrosive effect that worsens with time. A false credit reporting attorney can help you enforce your rights against an agency or creditor that does not comply with or violates the FCRA. Attorney Robert Brennan has been helping consumers successfully sue Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, as well as all the big banks, credit card companies, lenders and debt collectors for over 20 years. We are recognized as the leading law firm for cases under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in Southern California.
Our goal is to get wrongful credit reporting removed from your record through any legal means necessary and get the compensation you deserve. We offer free legal consultations for consumers facing false credit reporting issues. Call our firm today to speak with an attorney and find out what rights you have as a consumer.