You may be surprised to learn that there are errors in your credit report. These mistakes could cause your credit score to be reduced and make it difficult for you to be approved for loans or other financial partnerships.
You may also be surprised to learn that you can collect financial compensation for these mistakes if they were due to violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Fortunately, with the help of an experienced FCRA attorney at Berger Montague, you can take action to dispute these credit report errors and get your credit score back on track. A credit report lawyer can help handle the dispute resolution process and hold irresponsible credit reporting bureaus and financial institutions accountable for their mistakes.
Obtain Copies of Your Credit Reports
If you are hoping to begin disputing the errors on your credit report, the first thing you need to do is obtain copies of each of all three of your credit reports. There are three major credit reporting bureaus. These are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Each of the credit reporting bureaus maintains its own credit report file that contains important information regarding your creditworthiness. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report upon request and can obtain your credit report online from annualcreditreport.com.
Do not use other sites. If you go to a website that asks you to pay for a copy of your report, you are on the wrong site.
Why It’s Important to Obtain a Copy of Your Credit Report
The reason it is important to obtain copies of your report from all three credit bureaus is that not all creditors will report your information to each of the three credit bureaus. Some creditors only report to one or two bureaus, which means that you need to look at your report from all the bureaus to be sure none of them contain mistakes or inaccuracies.
The credit bureaus can only put information on your credit report that creditors and lenders report to them. If you see a negative item on your credit report, you can expect it to show up on other credit reports as well, including on reports sold by resellers to mortgage lenders.
Once you have copies of your credit reports, it is important to go through them line by line and review them for any inaccuracies or errors. Some of the most common types of problems that could show up on your credit report include:
- Accounts you do not recognize
- Accounts you did not open
- Accounts that do not belong to you
- Family members’ accounts wrongly showing on your report
- Inaccurate credit limits
- Inaccurate loan balances
- Omitted payment information
- Signs of identity theft, such as wrong names, accounts addresses, Social Security numbers, or birth dates
- Addresses where you have never lived
- Names you have never used
- Incorrect Social Security or Tax ID Number
- Ex-spouses being incorrectly listed as still on your accounts
- Duplicate accounts/multiple entries for the same debt
- Inquiries from companies you never authorized to pull your report
- Inquiries from companies you do not recognize
Do You Have to Pay to Dispute an Error on Your Credit Report?
There is never a cost to dispute an error on a credit report, but the result of the dispute could impact your credit score considerably depending on the error in question. Any information that could impact your creditworthiness is worth disputing, as this will impact lenders’ opinions of you when accessing your credit report.
Having someone else’s personal information on your credit report can be an early warning sign of identity theft or that the credit bureaus have your file mixed with someone else’s file. It is important to pay attention to those issues early.
Get All Your Documents Organized
Once you have gone through your credit report line by line, it is time to get organized. Before you begin disputing errors on your credit report, you need to make it easy for the credit bureaus to confirm that the mistakes you are pointing out are valid.
Some of the most important types of supporting documents and information you should gather as you prepare to dispute your credit report errors include:
- Copies of your bank statements
- Proof of your identity
- Copies of your loan documents
- Copies of your credit card statements
- A copy of your identity theft police report
- A copy of your FTC complaint report
- A copy of your divorce decree
- Proof of your current address and past addresses over the last two years
- Your Social Security number and Social Security card
- Copies of your birth certificate
- Copies of any death certificates
- Copies of your driver’s license or passport
- Copies of insurance statements or utility bills to verify address
You can go over your credit report errors with your attorney to determine other relevant evidence and documentation that could be used to help you correct this inaccurate information.
File Disputes With the Credit Reporting Bureaus
Each of the credit bureaus has its own dispute resolution process. However, their dispute processes are notoriously bureaucratic, and disputes are often handled in an automated fashion.
Unless you like spending hours on the phone with ill-informed customer service representatives or spending your days communicating with automated bots, you should work with an experienced credit reporting attorney who can help you navigate the dispute process.
An attorney can help you determine exactly what your dispute should say and which documents you will need to gather and submit to the credit bureaus in order to have the best chance of success.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends informing creditors and lenders of credit report errors in writing once you have filed your dispute. This can help to avoid any additional reporting of inaccurate information to credit bureaus.
Review the Credit Bureau’s Response
The Fair Credit Reporting Act is the law that protects consumers from errors in their credit reports. Under this federal law, credit reporting agencies have an obligation to investigate all credit report disputes.
In most cases, credit bureaus are required to respond to your dispute within 30 days. If the credit reporting agency agrees that an error has been made, they will remove the item and send you a copy of your new credit report.
Your attorney will reach out to the credit bureau in question and request that they communicate this correction of your credit report to anyone who may have received a copy of it over the last six months. You also have the right to request that corrected copies of your credit report be sent to anyone who requested a copy of it for employment purposes over the last two years.
However, the bureaus are not required to agree to every dispute. Lenders and creditors have the opportunity to disagree that the item you have disputed is a mistake. When this happens, the credit bureau may refuse to remove the item.
In this case, you will need to take action with help from your attorney, who can help you re-submit the dispute and/or file a lawsuit against the credit bureau for damages.
What Damages Can I Receive From a Credit Report Error?
While you might be more concerned about getting the errors on your credit report fixed, you should understand that your case is likely more valuable than you realize. FCRA violations can cost people more than just monetary losses. They can also disrupt people’s lives and distort their reputations.
Our credit reporting lawyers help victims pursue financial compensation in the form of:
- Statutory damages: These damages are standard among cases. They range between $100 and $1,000. Consumers can take advantage of these without needing to prove the losses.
- Actual damages: An attorney can help you calculate how much of a negative financial impact you experienced as a result of the credit report error. There is no limit to the amount you can recover so long as you can prove the losses occurred as a direct result of the FCRA violation.
- Punitive damages: If the credit reporting agency acted with gross negligence or malicious intent, the court may award you with punitive damages, which are intended to punish the violator and deter other agencies from similar errors. These damages also have no limit.
- Attorney fees: Fee-shifting applies under the FCRA statute. This means that the other party will be required to cover the litigation costs if you win your case.
Berger Montague is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm, and we are the best FCRA firm in the country. We’ve secured over $36 billion in verdicts and settlements for clients whose rights have been violated under the FCRA, and we routinely win settlements for $100,000 or more.
With over 50 years of experience and 65 lawyers representing clients nationwide, the credit bureaus’ lawyers know us by name. Our track record of success means we are the most capable legal representatives of consumers disputing credit report errors to obtain money damages.
Contact a Credit Report Lawyer for Help
If your life has been turned upside down by credit report errors, and your attempts to work with credit reporting agencies to address these mistakes or inconsistencies have proven unsuccessful, you may need an aggressive credit report lawyer at Berger Montague to take on your case.
We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay nothing up front for us to represent you. Our payment comes out of a percentage of your eventual settlement or court award. If we do not win your case, we do not collect payment.
Find out what your next steps should be when you contact our office for a no-cost, risk-free consultation. You can call our office or fill out our convenient contact form when you are ready to get started addressing the issues with your credit report.