The information contained herein is for informational purposes only. If you have questions you should direct those to a local attorney. The author assumes no responsibility for actions in reliance on the following information.
We live in the information age. Credit Reports or Consumer Reports are used to evaluate your creditworthiness, your employability, and to rate you for insurance. Erroneous information can hurt you financially!
Because of the way information is gathered, compiled and reported, there is a substantial likelihood that your Consumer Report contains errors. You need to know and understand your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act in order to protect your good name and provide you the best economic opportunities.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law which governs the credit reporting industry. It provides remedies for violations of its provisions. The statute is based on notice. This means that you must place the offending party on notice that he or she has violated the FCRA before he or she will be liable for damages caused by a violation of the FCRA.
Generally there are two parties involved in any piece of information on your consumer report - the PROVIDER of the information, and the REPORTER of the information. There are three major National Credit Reporting Agencies which fall into the category of reporter. Those being: Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax. There are millions of providers of information, ranging from banks, credit unions, collection agencies and other creditors. Either party may be liable for damages they cause for reporting erroneous information under the FCRA.
As mentioned above, the trigger for liability under the FCRA is notice. Once you discover that information on your credit report is erroneous, you must give notice of the inaccuracy to the credit reporting agency before liability will trigger. This is true even if the provider of information is the guilty party. NOTICE MUST GO TO THE CREDIT REPORTING AGENCY i.e. Trans Union, Equifax, Experian. Sending a dispute notice to the provider of information will not trigger liability under the FCRA. The best procedure is to send notice of the dispute to the Credit Reporting Agency and a copy to the provider.
Once the Reporting Agency is put on notice that your consumer report contains inaccurate information, it has a duty to investigate and correct any errors. It has thirty days to verify the information for accuracy. If the information cannot be verified it must be removed. If the provider of information verifies the information the Reporting Agency may continue to report the information. If, after receiving notice of the dispute, the Credit Reporting Agency continues to report erroneous information, then it may become liable for damages under the FCRA. The furnisher of information may also be liable, if it continues to furnish inaccurate information to the Credit Reporting Agency. Notice is the key.
The content of the notice of dispute is very important. The notice must contain enough information to identify you and your problem. Generally you should include your full name, address, date of birth, and your social security number. You should also send a copy of your driver’s license. You should list the date of the report from which the dispute arises, identify the creditor, and describe the dispute with detail. Also send any supporting documentation you have. It is always a good idea to send this information via certified mail, return receipt requested. THIS NOTICE MUST BE SENT TO THE CREDIT REPORTING AGENCY. You may also send a copy to the provider, but the FCRA requires notice to the Credit Reporting Agency. The addresses for the dispute centers for each of the three national agencies are:
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
Post Office Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
Experian National Consumer Assistance Center
PO Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
If you are unsuccessful in your attempts to correct erroneous information, then you should seek the advise of an attorney in your area who does litigation pursuant to the FCRA. It is important to seek the services on someone in your state because some states have better consumer protection laws which may afford you a better remedy. Only a local attorney will know your state’s laws with respect to your particular problem. If you cannot find an attorney in your area, feel free to email me for a referral.