Having the best credit score you can has become a necessary part of everyday life. Consumers are afforded protections over their credit reports under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). The FCRA sets the guidelines and practices that both Credit Reporting Agencies and furnishers of credit information are required to follow. Nonetheless, many consumers still struggle with errors on their credit reports that negatively impact their day to day lives. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission found that 1 in 5 credit reports contained mistakes that negatively impacted a person’s credit score.
These errors can affect your credit score with significant consequences. Often, applications for mortgages, educational loans, health insurance, credit cards, or even employment are rejected because of erroneous credit reports.
That’s where Marcus & Zelman comes in. We are a team of experienced attorneys who can help you at every stage of the credit reporting error process. From identifying inaccurate information on your credit report, to drafting a clear and effective dispute letter, and all the way to helping you litigate your rights under the FCRA, Marcus & Zelman is here to help you fix your credit errors and get your life back on track, unimpeded. No matter the type of credit reporting issue you are dealing with, you can count on us to serve your case with the zeal and experience you deserve.
The first step is to dispute the inaccurate reporting with the Consumer Reporting Agencies – such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Disputes made directly to the company reporting the information do NOT count. The content of that dispute letter is important, so contact us at Marcus & Zelman for a free consultation before sending in your dispute letter.
You can request your credit report from the three major Credit Reporting Agencies (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian) for FREE from AnnualCreditReport.com (https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action). Simply fill out the questions and you’ll be able to download and review each of your credit reports for any errors or inaccuracies.
A credit repair agency can be a great partner with the expertise to help you navigate the credit disputing process. However, many times these disputes are just rubber stamped as “verified” by the Consumer Reporting Agencies, no matter how valid the dispute. In many cases, the only way to get these companies to comply with the law is with a lawsuit.
The credit reporting agencies maintain a file on every single person. Because Credit Reporting Agencies generally do not require a full Social Security Number match before associating account information with a consumer’s file, often a consumer’s file will become ‘merged’ or ‘mixed’ with another person’s file, causing another person’s negative credit information to appear on your report. This can be a very difficult mess to unravel, and often will require a lawyer getting involved to be resolved.
Yes! The FCRA applies to all Consumer Reporting Agencies, and background checks for employment or housing are also considered Consumer Reports, the same as a credit report. If there is inaccurate information on your background check like someone else’s criminal history or an eviction that never happened, you may be entitled to damages. Secure a copy of your background report and let us know below what happened.
A dispute letter is first sent to the Credit Reporting Agency. This letter will generally contain the consumer’s personal details, as well as a description of the consumer’s dispute. The Credit Reporting Agency then forwards the dispute to the company that furnished this information to that agency. That furnisher then has several weeks to respond to the dispute, and either must verify the information as accurate, or it must delete or correct that information. The consumer reporting agency will then notify you of the furnisher’s decision. All of this should happen within 30 days of submitting the dispute.
Notify the credit reporting agencies immediately. They can put a fraud alert and a security freeze on your credit file. If you see anything on your credit report that is a result of identity theft, you will typically need to fill out a Police Report and an Identity Theft Affidavit, which you can obtain here (https://www.identitytheft.gov/). Once you submit that to the credit reporting agencies, they have 4 days to apply a special identity theft block to your credit report. If you are continuing to face errors on your credit report due to identity theft, contact us at Marcus & Zelman for help.
Generally, seven years from the date of your last delinquency (the last missed payment date). Bankruptcies can stay on your credit report for up to ten years.
Generally, no. Your credit report is your private information and cannot be viewed by someone unless they have a permissible purpose for pulling your report. Permissible purposes can include debt collection, potential employment, or to determine your eligibility for a credit application. Companies pulling your credit typically must let you know before they access your credit and can be liable if they do not make that disclosure.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (the FCRA) protects consumers and their credit reports. If a company does not follow the law, they could be liable for statutory damages (between $100-$1,000), actual damages, punitive damages. These companies may also have to pay for your attorneys’ fees and costs. The law provides a powerful tool to keep credit furnishers and credit reporting agencies honest, and to make sure that information reported in your credit report is accurate.