Your credit reports play a monumental role in shaping your financial opportunities and reputation. However, if those reports contain errors, your access to credit and financing can suffer dramatically. As staunch advocates for consumer rights, our firm frequently encounters violations of consumers’ rights under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). These violations, whether through sloppy reporting practices or negligence in investigating disputes, perpetrate inaccuracies that can wreak havoc on your finances for years.
In this guide, we detail the most common Fair Credit Reporting Act violations together with the exact steps you can take if you believe false information is plaguing your credit history. Arm yourself with knowledge and take action against credit report errors.
1. Inaccurate Reporting of Your Credit Information
Among the most frequent complaints Gale, Angelo, Johnson & Patrick P.C. handles involves issues of inaccurate credit reporting. This occurs when furnishers like banks, lenders, or collection agencies provide imprecise, unverified, or flat-out false information regarding your accounts to the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Some examples of inaccurate reporting include:
- Reporting closed accounts as open
- Listing incorrect account balances
- Misstating your actual payment history
- Failing to update accounts as settled or paid
- Associating other individuals’ accounts with your profile
These and other reporting fallacies get propagated through the credit reporting system and reflected on your file, dragging down your all-important credit score. Unfortunately, some furnishers are careless about accurately reporting payment statuses, balances, and histories.
Disputing Inaccurate Accounts
If you spot false information on your credit report, you have the right under the FCRA to start a dispute with the bureau and furnisher. This involves providing details of the discrepancy and any documents substantiating your claim. The bureaus and furnisher must then undertake a reasonable investigation within 30 days.
Furnishers risk FCRA violations through repeatedly furnishing unverifiable or false information that has been disputed. With our firm’s assistance, we can assist in the preparation of and pursue legal action if violations are identified. The integrity of your credit profile hangs in the balance.
2. Failure to Reasonably Investigate Credit Report Disputes
When you exercise your right to dispute inaccurate items on your credit reports, the bureaus are obligated under federal law to conduct a reasonable investigation of your claim. Regrettably, in practice many credit bureaus undertake only cursory, superficial reviews before closing the dispute.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandates the bureaus make a good faith effort to ascertain the accuracy of disputed information by obtaining verification from furnishers. Instead, the bureaus frequently just reach out to the furnisher, ask them to confirm the data, and consider the dispute resolved when the furnisher reiterates the same unverified information.
Holding Bureau’s Accountable
These shallow investigations clearly violate the intent of the FCRA and consumers’ rights. With knowledgeable legal advocates on your side, you can push the bureaus to truly scrutinize contested information, compel furnishers to validate reported data, and have unverified items deleted.
The team at Gale, Angelo, Johnson & Patrick P.C. have seen firsthand the shortcomings of many bureau investigations; we know how to compel them to fulfil their lawful duties to protect your financial interests. Don’t let them shrug off disputes with form-letter responses.
3. Impermissible Access to Your Confidential Credit Report
The FCRA has strict rules around which types of entities can access your credit reports and under what circumstances. Generally, creditors, insurers, landlords, and employers have permissible purpose for accessing your reports provided they obtain your prior consent. However, the bureaus sometimes release reports without the proper consent, constituting a violation.
For instance, if an employer checks your credit history without having you sign a release authorization first, they are infringing upon your confidentiality rights under federal law. The FCRA is designed to keep your sensitive financial information private and prevent unauthorized exposure.
Safeguarding Your Credit Information
If you suspect an entity viewed your credit illegally, contact our office. Our seasoned attorneys can determine if the FCRA was breached, initiate disputes on your behalf, and commence litigation if they continue to violate your rights. We can also advise if you have grounds for a lawsuit against the bureaus for enabling unauthorized access. Don’t let them compromise your privacy.
4. Reporting Outdated Negative Information
Under the FCRA, the credit bureaus and furnishers have a responsibility to maintain current, up-to-date information in your credit file. They should not indefinitely continue reporting old negative items from your distant past that no longer bear relevance to assessing your creditworthiness today.
Nonetheless, we routinely see credit reports plagued by outdated entries like:
- Late payments from over 7 years ago
- Defaults on old loans long since paid
- Ancient collections with expired statute of limitations
- Bankruptcies from a decade or more ago
While these may have been negative markers at one time, they lose significance and should fall off your credit report after set time periods. Yet often they obstinately endure on credit reports, weighing down consumers’ scores.
Removing Obsolete Derogatory Items
You have the right to initiate disputes when your reports contain outdated, obsolete information that inaccurately portrays your finances. Our experienced attorneys can advise you on applicable time limits and cite the FCRA to compel the bureaus and furnishers to remove the outdated items. If you have been sending out demand letters without success, we can leverage the full authority of federal law to help clear your reports of inaccuracies.
5. Mixed or Merged Credit Files
One of the stickiest and most harmful errors happens when the bureaus merge your credit history with another individual’s file, blending records together. Suddenly you may find yourself accountable for loans never taken out or named on bankruptcies filed by strangers, seriously distorting your credit standing.
This nightmare scenario stems from the credit bureaus’ carelessness in matching identifying information across different files. You may share close names, addresses, or social security numbers with another consumer, causing crossing of files.
Unraveling Mixed Credit Identities
Untangling merged files often proves challenging for consumers alone, requiring skilled legal assistance. The consumer law experts at our firm are seasoned in navigating this tangled process. We’ll aggressively press the bureaus to investigate, separate the mixed files, and ensure only accurate information remains tied to your identity. This includes having erroneous entries scrubbed from your records, so you don’t unjustly shoulder others’ financial missteps.
How to Fight Back Against Credit Report Errors
Armed with awareness of your Fair Credit Reporting Act rights, you now have greater power to identify violations and pursue corrections. If you encounter any of the following, consider seeking legal support from our qualified attorneys to defend your interests:
- Inaccurate account statuses – Dispute with details and proof of correct status
- False account balances – Provide proper documentation of true balance
- Accounts that don’t belong to you – Inform bureaus and request immediate removal
- Multiple listings of same debt – Report duplicate accounts that overstate what you owe
- Verification failures when disputing – Pressure bureaus to verify with furnisher
- Outdated negative items – Cite reporting time limits for removal
- Mixed credit files – Insist bureaus unravel and separate records
At our firm, we have collectively spent decades helping thousands of consumers just like you stand up against credit reporting errors. Our attorneys understand every nuance of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, enabling us to aggressively hold the credit bureaus and furnishers accountable when they breach your rights under federal law.
We have successfully recovered damages and gotten countless inaccurate items permanently deleted from credit reports through litigation when necessary. Don’t let mistaken information tank your credit. With us as your tireless advocates, you can rest assured knowing your credit rights are protected.
Contact us at (866) 380-3131 for a no-cost consultation if you suspect violations impacting your credit profile. Our mission is helping consumers like you defend your financial interests in the face of unlawful credit reporting.