Do you have credit report errors?
We represent consumers with credit report errors. Credit report problems can be a result of identity theft or a consumer reporting agency’s failure to assure the maximum accuracy of its files. The most common credit report complaints we hear include:
Identity theft – information in the consumer’s file as a result of theft of identity
- Mixed files – information in the consumer’s file that belongs to another consumer
- Obsolete information – derogatory information older than 7 years
- Public records – inaccurate judgment, lien or bankruptcy information
Credit report errors can keep you from getting credit, employment, housing and insurance. Banks use credit reports to determine eligibility for mortgages and loans. Credit card companies use credit reports to determine whether to extend credit and if so, at what interest rate. Employers use credit reports to decide whether to hire, promote or fire employees.
What information is in your credit report?
Your credit report is divided into several sections, including your personal information, public records, account information and inquiries. Your personal information includes your name and name variations, date of birth, Social security number (and variations), current and prior addresses, phone numbers and employers. The credit bureaus obtain this information from your existing and potential creditors, as well as you when you provide information to the bureaus to request your credit report.
Your credit report includes public record information. Public records include bankruptcies, civil judgments and tax liens. The credit bureaus obtain public record information from their public records vendors, such as Lexis Nexis.
Your credit report includes your accounts. The accounts generally are listed in alphabetical order and may be divided between derogatory and satisfactory accounts. Derogatory accounts reduce your credit score. Examples of derogatory accounts include late payment history (30, 60, 90, 120 or 180 days past due), charge off status or collection status.
Your credit report includes an inquiry section. In the inquiry section, the credit report will list the names of the companies who received your credit file in the last two years. The inquiry section also indicates the type of inquiry made. Hard inquiries are seen by others and can reduce your credit score. Soft inquiries are shared only with you, and do not affect your credit score. Inquiries must be made for a permissible purpose, so review this list carefully and make sure the companies had your permission to see your personal credit file.
Consumers should review their credit reports regularly to find credit report errors. Under federal law, consumers have the right to a free credit report from the credit bureaus at least once every twelve months. You can click Annual Credit Report Request Form to order your free credit report from Equifax®, Experian™ and TransUnion®. We do not recommend that you order your report on the Internet or by telephone. Contact us at 1-800-263-9091 to find out how you can order your free credit reports.
When you receive your credit reports, you should check them very carefully for errors. An incorrect address, name or date of birth could mean your file is mixed with another person. If you find an account or public record that does not belong to you, you might be a victim of identity theft.
Reviewing your credit report on a regular basis will help protect you from identity theft. Credit reports with inaccurate names, public records, accounts or inquiries may be a red flag that you are a victim of identity theft. Incorrect information on your credit report caused by an identity thief can keep you from getting a job, credit or insurance.
You should always dispute credit report errors – it’s your right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). If any of these sections contain incorrect information on your credit report, then you should dispute the credit report errors by certified mail to each of the credit agencies.
We represent consumers who have credit report errors and who have made credit report disputes. We represent clients in individual lawsuits and class action lawsuits against credit reporting agencies, employers, creditors and debt collectors. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy of credit reports and the privacy of personal information. Under federal law, consumers have the right to get a free credit report:
1. Once every 12 months consumers can order an Annual Credit Report (free credit report).
2. When a company takes “adverse action,” such as a denial of credit or employment or approves you for credit but with unfavorable credit terms, such as a high interest rate or requiring a deposit.
3. If you are unemployed and looking for a job in the next 60 days, then you have the right to order a free credit report. If you are looking for a job, it is a good idea to review your credit report before your future employer does. This right gives consumers the opportunity to dispute and correct credit report errors before turning in a job application. The FCRA also provides employees with important rights when employers conduct background checks.
4. If you are a recipient of public assistance, then you have the right to a free credit report. Public assistance includes Medicare and Social Security.
5. If you are a victim of identity theft, then you have a right to a free credit report. In fact, as an identity theft victim, you have the right to order 2 free credit reports every 12 months from the credit bureaus.
6. Some state laws provide consumers with additional rights to a free credit. For example, Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont allow consumers with the right to order a free credit report. In Georgia, consumers have the right to order 2 free credit reports per year.
Once you get your reports you should check each report for errors. Under the FCRA, consumer reporting agencies are responsible for correcting inaccurate or fraudulent information on your credit report after you dispute the credit report error. In other words, credit bureaus must investigate your dispute and delete incorrect information.
HOW DO I DISPUTE CREDIT REPORT ERRORS?
- Notify the credit reporting agency in writing of the information you believe is incorrect.
- Include copies of supporting documents, such as proof of payment or an ID Theft Affidavit.
- Include your contact information, name, address, and Social Security number.
- Mail your dispute by certified mail and request a return receipt.
- Keep your letter simple and clear. Explain what information is inaccurate and why. Ask the credit reporting agency to delete the inaccurate information from your credit file.
- Keep a copy of the dispute letter for future reference, especially if you have to hire a FCRA lawyer.
- Contact a FCRA lawyer if the credit bureaus do not correct your report. Consumers have the right to sue the credit reporting bureaus and data furnishers in federal court for violations of the FCRA.
Click HERE to download a free sample credit report dispute form.
If you have reviewed your credit report and disputed the incorrect or fraudulent information, and the credit reporting agency has refused to remove the credit report errors, then you may be entitled to recover money damages. Contact Fair Credit Reporting Act attorney Micah Adkins for a free credit report review.