Credit Reporting Litigation
Need help fixing a credit report error?
More and more consumers are finding it extremely difficult to correct mistakes on their credit reports. They complain that the Credit Reporting Agencies and creditors don’t respond to their complaints. Fixing mistakes on credit reports takes time and patience, and can be very frustrating. Consumers complain they are being ignored and that they feel powerless. In short, consumers complain that they are getting the “run around.” If you have found yourself in this situation, we invite you to contact a New York debt collection harassment lawyer at the Law Office of Joseph Mauro for help. Bringing a lawsuit may be necessary to get the attention of the companies involved, and to get the problems fixed.
Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act permits consumers to sue the Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs), and the companies reporting the information to the CRAs. The law also allows the consumer to ask that the Defendant be ordered to pay the consumer’s reasonable attorney’s fees.
Consumer credit reports are files of financial information that are put together, and kept by Consumer Credit Agencies (CRA’s). The three major CRAs are Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. These three CRAs gather information about consumers from financial institutions like credit card companies, and banks. The CRAs keep this financial information and then sell the information to other people and companies.
The financial information that is kept includes the consumer’s credit card information; personal identification information (like address, date of birth, social security number, etc); and public records (like judgments, or bankruptcies). Consumer credit reports are used to determine if a consumer is a good credit risk. In other words, companies look at a consumer credit report to figure out whether the consumer can be trusted to pay back money borrowed. Consumer credit reports contain the credit history of consumers.
Unfortunately, many consumers find that their credit report contains incorrect information. Many consumers also find that it can be extremely difficult to try to correct the bad information. Consumers often find that the CRAs can be extremely difficult to communicate with, and that their complaints get them nowhere.
Lawsuits Are Often the Only Answer
Consumers are permitted to sue the CRAs for reporting incorrect information. Consumers can also sue the companies that report the incorrect information to the CRAs. While there are certain things that a consumer may have to do before bringing suit, consumers often find that bringing a lawsuit is the only way to correct errors on their credit report. The law also permits the consumer to ask the Court to order the defendant to pay reasonable attorney’s fees.
What the Fair Credit Reporting Act Says
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a law intended to make sure that consumers are treated fairly regarding their credit reports. Consumers have certain rights under the FCRA. The following is a brief outline of some of the more important rights that are commonly violated. This is not a complete list of all consumer rights under the FCRA.
- Consumers can dispute inaccurate information with the CRA. If a consumer believes that information appearing on their credit report is wrong, the consumer may tell the CRA that the information is wrong. The CRA is then obligated to reinvestigate the information. If the CRA finds that the information is wrong they must correct it or delete it. (You should keep a copy of all letters, and send all letters by certified mail, return receipt requested.)
- Consumers can dispute inaccurate information with the source of the information. If a consumer believes that inaccurate information is being reported to the CRA by a creditor (like a credit card company, or bank), the consumer may dispute the information with the creditor. If the creditor agrees with the consumer, the information must be corrected. If the consumer does not agree with the creditor, the creditor may continue to report the information, but must include a notice that the consumer disputes the information. Be careful here however: If you decide to dispute the information with the creditor, you should also dispute the information with the Credit Reporting Agencies as well. Disputing the information just with the creditor will not preserve all of the consumer’s rights.
- Old information may not be reported. In most cases, a consumer credit report may not contain negative information that is more than seven years old; ten years for bankruptcies.
- Access to Consumer Credit Reports is limited. Only certain people or companies are allowed to “pull” a consumer’s credit report. The person or company who pulls the report must have a “legitimate purpose” for doing so. For instance, when a consumer applies for credit, the creditor may pull the consumer’s report.
- Consumers may sue for violations of their rights. If a consumer’s rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act have been violated, they may have the right to sue. Often consumers are forced to sue, just to fix errors on their report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows the consumer to ask the Court to have the violator pay the consumer’s reasonable attorney’s fees.