Accurate credit reports are crucial. When there are problems, you need to dispute them and get your credit fixed.
The information contained in your credit report can make a huge difference in your life. It can make the difference between a good loan and a bad loan, or no loan at all. For these reasons, it is critical that the information that appears on our credit reports is 100% accurate. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. When errors appear on your TransUnion, Equifax or Experian credit reports, it is important to get them removed.
Obtaining Your Credit Report
Consumers may obtain a free copy of their consumer report online once every 12 months. Simply go to www.annualcreditreport.com and request your complimentary Equifax, Experian and Trans Union profiles. (Note: many other sites advertise as “free” but really contain hidden fees or charges.) You are also entitled to a free report within 60 days of credit denial. The agency on which denial is based will be mentioned in the notice.
Getting False Information Off Your Credit Report
Accuracy of the information contained in the credit report is hugely critical in our society. So what do you do if the information contained in your credit report is inaccurate?
The first thing you need to do is send a credit dispute letter to the credit reporting agency and the creditor that is reporting the false information. We recommend that you send this letter via certified mail and save a copy for your records. Provide as much detail as possible about the nature of dispute. Attach copies of supporting documents. Here is a sample letter:
Your Address, City, State, Zip Code
Name of Company
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. I have circled the items I dispute on the attached copy of the report I received.
This item (identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.) is inaccurate because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why). I am requesting that the item be removed (or request another specific change) to correct the information.
Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records and court documents) supporting my position. Please reinvestigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct) the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.
Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing.)
Once a consumer disputes the accuracy of the credit report, the credit reporting agency must re-investigate the accuracy of the information being reported. If the information was incorrect, the credit reporting agency must correct its record and notify the people to whom a credit report was sent.
If the dispute does not correct the error, you should discuss your claim with a consumer protection attorney experienced with handling claims under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides powerful remedies in instances in which credit reporting agencies fail to correct false information on a consumer’s credit report, including damages for impairment to credit and punitive damages when the agency’s conduct is “willful”. The Act also requires the credit reporting agencies to pay the consumer’s legal fees if the case is successful. This provision allows consumers to hire lawyers to represent them without paying upfront legal fees.
Examples of Fair Credit Reporting Act Cases
Credit reporting agency Equifax repeatedly confused Angela Williams credit report with another woman of the same name who had bad credit. Despite several dispute letters by Ms. Williams, Equifax continued to report bad debts which weren’t hers. As a consequence, Angela was denied student loans, credit-card accounts, ATM cards and other financial applications. She also couldn’t apply for a mortgage, fearing more recurrence of the credit problems. Finally, Ms. Williams brought a lawsuit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The jury awarded her $219,000 in credit damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages as well as her attorney’s fees.
Rex Saunders traded in a car at a dealership and financed a second car. The dealership paid off his note on the trade-in and financed the second car with the same bank, BB&T. BB&T apparently misplaced the new loan information, however. Saunders said he never received a new payment book. When he repeatedly contacted the bank, bank representatives told him that he owed nothing. The DMV had no record of a lien on his car title. Six months later, the bank woke up. BB&T suddenly demanded more than $20,000 in overdue payments, late fees, and other charges. Saunders was willing to meet his loan obligations, but he refused to pay anything until the bank dropped the penalties and late fees. BB&T would not agree. It repossessed the car, torpedoed Saunders’ credit rating, and refused to acknowledge Saunders’ dispute about the legitimacy of his debt. On that evidence, the jury returned a verdict for Saunders, awarding no compensatory damages, but determining that the bank owed $1,000 in statutory damages and $80,000 in punitive damages as well as her attorney’s fees.
If you have attempted to get Transunion, Equifax or Experian to fix your credit report to no avail, you may have a claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Contact us for a free case evaluation. We are here to help!
Bishop, Heenan & Davies Law Firm
1631 Zimmerman Trail
Billings, MT 59102