Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the statute enacted to protect consumers and promote accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information, consumers are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three big credit reporting agencies. The purpose of this recent amendment to the statute is to make a free report available to all consumers to allow them to review their report and ensure its accuracy.
AnnualCreditReport.com and the FCRA
You can obtain a copy of your report from AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. If the information in your report is inaccurate it could damage your ability to obtain credit at the most favorable interest rates and in some situations could result in you being turned down for credit altogether. In the event your credit report contains inaccurate information, the FCRA allows you to dispute with the credit reporting agencies and request an investigation into your report. Upon receiving notice of a dispute, the credit reporting agency must contact the provider or furnisher of information and is responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report and responding to you within 30 days.
New Online Dispute Options
In the past few years, the reporting agencies’ methods of conducting investigations has changed to help consumers. Consumers are now able to submit documentation through the online dispute process to support their dispute. In the past, the online dispute process provided only a drop-down menu with a list of choices for what kind of dispute the consumer had. There was also a space for one to add a statement of up to 50 characters. Now, Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union have a system in place to allow consumers disputing online to upload documents. However, if you prefer, you may still send a dispute by certified mail or by fax.
While it is never a bad idea to contact creditors directly, the FCRA requires the credit reporting agencies to forward your dispute and all relevant information to the creditor that you are complaining about. In other words, if you send a dispute regarding inaccurate payment information on your credit card account, the credit reporting agency must forward your dispute and all supporting documentation to the credit card company. The credit card company is obligated under the FCRA to conduct its own investigation of your dispute and must report back to the credit bureau with its results. It is then the credit reporting agencies’ job to report back to you the results of the investigation along with an explanation of how the information has either remained the same or has changed. Furthermore, if the credit card company does not verify the accuracy of the account, the credit reporting agency is prohibited from continuing to report the information and must delete it from your credit report.
An additional change to the dispute process is the credit reporting agencies obligation to provide the consumer with notice of your right to request a description of the procedure used to determine the accuracy and completeness of the information, including the business name, address, and phone number of the information provider. If you are dissatisfied with the results of your investigation, requesting this information will be helpful in understanding why or how the information remained unchanged despite your request.
If you believe your rights have been violated under the FCRA and you would like the advice or assistance of counsel, contact SmithMarco P.C. for a completely free case review.