You have the right to correct a credit report error. Credit reporting agencies sometimes make mistakes when handling consumer reports. Corrections can be made by following the dispute by contacting the credit bureau and making a dispute. It is best to make any disputes in writing rather than over the phone. e.
Filing a dispute can involve providing documentation that your report is inaccurate. n. Gathering the proper evidence that proves the erroneous information can be time-consuming. In many cases, credit reporting agencies may take several months to correct.
If the credit reporting agency fails to remove the errors from your report, you have the right to sue for damages. The value of damages depends heavily on the harm you suffered, among other things. When you are denied the interest rate you deserve or your car loan application is rejected, a credit report lawyer can help you assess the potential monetary compensation you can recover in an FCRA lawsuit.
What Is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a set of federal laws created to protect consumers from unfair credit reporting practices. Credit reports are requested by many different individuals and organizations, including:
- Credit card companies
- Mortgage companies
- Potential employers
Credit bureaus and credit reporting agencies collect, use, and share your credit information. The FCRA regulates how credit bureaus are to maintain, report, and correct your credit information so that it is accurate. A negligent or willful violation of your rights under the FCRA may entitle you to recover damages.
Potential Remedies for a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Violation
Potential remedies for an FCRA violation depend on the particular circumstances of the case. Damages are awarded based on the extent of consumer harm. For example, if a credit report error prevented you from purchasing a house in this highly-competitive market, you may be entitled to significant damages.
Remedies for an FCRA violation may entitle a victim to the following damages:
- Actual damages
- Court costs and attorney fees
- Possible punitive damages
- Statutory damages
Statutory damages usually range from $100 to $1,000 per error. Total compensation heavily depends on whether the FCRA violation was willful or negligent. Legally, a violation is considered “willful” when the violation is proven to be knowing or reckless.
Possible Liable Parties in an FCRA Violation Lawsuit
There can be several possible liable parties in an FCRA violation lawsuit. The FCRA regulates how your credit information is accessed, reported, and used. Depending on the circumstances of your case, liable parties can include:
- Credit bureaus
- Potential employers
- Collection agencies
- Rental and property management companies
- Credit card companies
For example, a credit bureau may be held responsible for erroneous information if they fail to remove it after filing a dispute. If the inaccuracies were negligently or willfully provided by a collection agency that failed to correct the reporting when it was disputed, the company may be liable for your credit report error. Regardless of the origin, you have the right to have mistakes removed from your report.
How the Dispute Process Works
Filing a dispute with a credit reporting agency is challenging. Gathering strong, supportive evidence that an error can take significant time. In addition, you must prepare all the necessary documentation..
Disputing credit report errors begins with contacting the credit reporting company, e.g., Equifax, Transunion, Experian, and following the next steps:
- Explain in writing what you are disputing and why
- Make sure to request the errors be corrected
- Gather documentation and other evidence that proves why the information is inaccurate
- Prepare documents and clearly identify each mistake using account numbers or other unique information
- Include a copy of the credit report that shows the error
Detailed documentation is critical to resolving a mistake on your credit report. Make sure you only send copies of your documents and that you send your dispute via certified mail return receipt requested. It is important that you keep any original documents in a safe place.
What Is a Frivolous Claim on a Credit Report Dispute?
Once the credit reporting agency receives your dispute information, they will evaluate whether or not your dispute is frivolous. If a dispute is considered frivolous, the agency does not have to conduct an investigation. Unfortunately, many legitimate disputes are labeled as “frivolous” and ignored.
A dispute may be seen as frivolous when:
- The information provided is insufficient (e.g., not providing enough supporting documents, not providing enough detail in the letter explaining why the information is inaccurate)
- The dispute is similar to one filed previously
In some cases, a person may be unsuccessful with their dispute and try again. However, when a dispute is seen as identical to the one you have already filed, the credit reporting agency will automatically mark it as frivolous. If the credit bureau determines your dispute is valid, they will forward all your documents to the furnisher of the erroneous information.
How Will the Credit Reporting Agency Handle My Dispute?
Once the credit reporting agency moves forward with your dispute, they pass it to the furnisher of the error in question. A furnisher is an individual or organization that provides information about you to the credit bureau. For example, furnishers may include:
- Savings and loans institutions
- Mortgage lenders
- Credit card companies
- Collections agencies
- Credit unions
The furnisher can respond by correcting the erroneous information on your credit report or standing by its accuracy. If the error needs correcting, they are responsible for updating your information through all three credit bureaus. However, if the furnisher denies the information is erroneous, a credit report lawyer may be able to help resolve the issue.
How a Credit Report Lawyer Can Help
A credit report lawyer can help correct or remove inaccuracies from your credit report. If you file a dispute for a credit report error and the furnisher stands by the information they have provided, you have options. You can request the credit reporting agency include a statement explaining the dispute.
Under the FCRA, you have the right to correct any inaccuracies in your credit report. You also have the right to damages should the errors violate the FCRA. If you have tried to dispute any erroneous information and failed, a credit report error lawyer can help.
Contact Berger Montague for Free Today
At Berger Montague, we have years of experience protecting consumer rights. We will evaluate your report and discuss the various solutions to your concerns. Contact our knowledgeable legal team today.