Credit reporting agencies, or what are commonly known as credit bureaus, including Trans Union, Equifax and Experian, have from time to time been known to report inaccurate information on credit reports. Inaccurate information can lead to a loss of credit by either a denied application, or by a current creditor closing or reducing a line of credit. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives consumers the right to request an investigation into the inaccuracy.
In order to open up an investigation, you will need to show proof that there is an error on your credit report in the form of payment of a bill, a letter from your creditor, or proper identification if any of the information contained in the report does not belong to you. In the case of identity theft, you will likely be asked to produce a police report.
The next step will be to write a letter directly to the credit reporting agencies, disputing the incorrect items on your report. While each credit reporting agency has its own on-line dispute process, you may want to reconsider using it as it is very limiting in what you can say and how you can use it to dispute inaccuracies.
Your dispute should be written out and mailed to the three major credit reporting agencies: Trans Union, Equifax and Experian. Be sure to follow-up by sending a copy to any creditor listed on your report that you claim is reporting inaccurately. The FCRA mandates that any credit reporting agency that receives your dispute must investigate and promptly notify any creditors about whom you are complaining, in order to enlist them in the investigation. Credit bureaus have a duty under the FCRA to conduct an investigation to verify your claims; the investigation process can take no longer than 30 days and you will receive a response in the mail.
If any company fails to reasonably investigate your dispute within the allotted time frame, you could be entitled to monetary damages. In addition, the FCRA provides that if a consumer is successful in bringing a claim under this law, not only could you be entitled to compensation for these damages, but your attorneys’ fees and costs are covered. The good news is that if you do find an error on your credit report, the credit bureaus agencies can be held accountable if they have reported inaccurate information on credit reports.
Larry SmithConsumer Rights Attorney at SmithMarco, P.C.Larry P. Smith is a consumer attorney and the founder and Managing Partner at SmithMarco, P.C. He has tried dozens of consumer rights cases to verdict and has arbitrated over 700 cases. Additionally, he has amicably resolved over 3,000 consumer fraud, Fair Credit Reporting Act and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act cases via settlement. Mr. Smith has been a guest on multiple radio outlets including WLS and WGN in Chicago providing consumer advice. Mr. Smith also provides leadership and delivers lectures to the National Association of Consumer Advocates, The National Consumer Law Center, and the Chicago Bar Association. Latest posts by Larry Smith (see all)
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