Inaccuracies on your credit report can stop your life in its tracks. The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives consumers a road to recovery, and with a competent California credit report lawyer on your side, you will have several options to help pave the way towards a positive future. Contact an experienced inaccurate account information disputes lawyer at Loker Law, APC today to learn more about account information disputes and how we can help you.
Inaccurate Account Information Disputes
“A poor credit history is the ‘Scarlet Letter’ of the 20th Century America.” 136 Cong. Rec. H5325-02 (daily ed. July 23, 1999) (statement of Rep. Annunzio) cited in Fed. Trade Comm’n v. Gill, 265 F.3d 944, 947 (9th Cir. 2001).
If you find yourself struggling with what to do about inaccurate credit information, know that you are not alone. According to a study by the Federal Trade Commission, one in five people has an error on at least one of their credit reports. So great, there are a lot of people in your position.
But now what? Do you have rights against the credit bureaus? Is it possible to get this inaccurate credit reporting information fixed? In short, you do have rights and you are able to fix this inaccurate information and you need to act now. Our California credit report lawyer is here to help.
What Are the Most Common Types of Inaccurate Reporting?
You should first understand some of the most common types of inaccurate reporting to help determine whether any of these has happened to you. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau identified various common errors on credit reports, such as those involving:
Errors in your identity data, such as wrong name, phone number, or address
Accounts belonging to another person with the same or similar name to you
Incorrect accounts resulting from identity theft
Reporting of Account Status
- Closed accounts reported as open
- You’re reported as the owner of the account when you’re just an authorized user
- Accounts that are incorrectly reported as late or delinquent
- Incorrect date of last payment, date opened, or date of first delinquency
- Same debt listed more than once
- Accounts with an incorrect current balance
- Accounts with an incorrect credit limit
Data Management Errors
- Reinsertion of incorrect information after it was corrected
- Accounts that appear multiple times with different creditors listed
Who Are the Credit Bureaus?
The “big three” main credit bureaus are:
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
However, there are hundreds of specialty credit bureaus that are also receiving information about you that might be inaccurate. For example, ChexSystems is a credit bureau that gathers information about your checking accounts. RentBureau will track your rent payments made to landlords. Accurate Background even provides background checks for prospective employers. These entities are electronically receiving thousands, or sometimes millions, of pieces of information from various furnishers every single month. Unfortunately, this electronic transfer of information is fraught with issues and often leads to incorrect credit information being reflected on your credit report. With all of this information about you floating around out there, what can you do to remedy inaccurate information?
Disputing Inaccurate Credit Report Information
If you find inaccurate information on your credit report, you should dispute the inaccuracies as soon as possible with both the furnisher (the bank, debt collector, or other entity associated with the account) as well as the Credit Bureau. Addresses for the furnisher where disputes should be sent are often reflected on their billing statements but will also appear on the credit report itself within the disputed tradeline.
Disputes can be submitted to the Credit Bureaus online; by telephone, or through the mail as follows:
Mail: Equifax Information Services LLC, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374
Phone: (866) 349-5186
Mail: Experian, P.O. Box 9701, Allen, TX 75013
Phone: (855) 414-6047
Mail: Trans Union Consumer Relations, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016-2000
Phone: (800) 916-8800
Traditional mailed disputes are often the most effective and avoid technological issues associated with online submissions or processing delays that can occur with telephone disputes.
Once the preferred dispute method is determined, it is best to provide any and all possible information needed to explain why the information being reported is inaccurate AND how the information should be reported. For example, does the disputed tradeline reflect that you were 30 or days late? If so, provide your monthly billing statements showing your payment deadline along with your bank statements that show that you made your payment on time.
Another example, does the disputed tradeline inaccurately report that you owe a debt that was incurred in your name without your knowledge or consent? If so, provide documents such as a police report, an FTC Fraud Affidavit, and any additional documents that show you did not incur the debt at issue.
It is not enough to simply note your disagreement with the current reporting then leave it up to the Credit Bureau and furnishers to determine if it is accurate. Such a dispute invites a quick verification without much recourse in response. In addition, too many unsubstantiated disputes can cause the Credit Bureaus to determine that your dispute was “frivolous” which will adversely affect this and future disputes. Full explanations and substantiating documents will help ensure proper updating of the tradeline in hopes that you can move on with your life and benefit from your credit. In sum, the more the merrier for your disputes.
Do I Need an Attorney to Help With Credit Report Inaccuracies?
This is a matter of personal preference. Consumers certainly have the option to represent themselves without the assistance of an attorney. Inaccurate credit reporting claims; however, often involve multiple defendants (i.e., the furnisher as well as any Credit Bureau that verified the inaccurate information) and these defendants are generally represented by multi-national defense firms.
The added complexities of Federal Court and internal coding of the respective defendants can cause confusion for even seasoned attorneys. As such, consumers who have inaccurate information being reported to their credit may benefit from the assistance of counsel who has experience fighting such claims. In addition, most consumer protection attorneys are able to prosecute claims of inaccurate credit reporting on a contingency basis which means that the consumer is not required to pay the attorney any fees or litigation costs.
How Long Do I Have to Fix Inaccurate Credit Reporting?
Bad news never improves with age. Like any legal issue, you will want to resolve credit reporting problems as soon as possible. These issues only tend to get more difficult as time passes and you might even lose the right to challenge the inaccurate credit reporting if you wait too long. This period to file a lawsuit is called the “Statute of Limitations.” The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires a consumer to bring an action within the EARLIER of
- 2 years after the date of discovery of the violation; OR
- 5 years after the violation occurs
This means on its most basic level that if you discovered the violation on May 1, 2020, you will have until May 1, 2022, to dispute the inaccurate reporting, receive a response from the Credit Bureaus (which can take up to 30 days or more as noted above), AND file your lawsuit. This is a time-intensive process so you will want to start disputing the inaccurate credit information as soon as you are able.
What Do I Do With the Response to My Credit Reporting Dispute?
The consumer will receive the furnisher’s response to their dispute either by U.S. Mail or e-mail. This response is called the “reinvestigation results” within the industry and is transmitted to the consumer by the Credit Bureaus via U.S. Mail or e-mail. As noted above, the consumer’s time to litigate a claim for inaccurate credit reporting is limited so the reinvestigation results should be reviewed immediately upon receipt.
The “reinvestigation” will typically result in the disputed information being verified; modified/updated; or, deleted. If not deleted, is it time to consult an attorney? Perhaps an additional dispute with further information is warranted? These are considerations that should be discussed with counsel experienced in handling claims based upon inaccurate credit reporting.
What Do I Need to Prove to Win a Claim for Inaccurate Credit Reporting?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a large statute with numerous sections that deal with impermissible access to your credit report, employment background checks, and inaccurate information on your credit report. In terms of fixing inaccurate information on your credit report, the law requires that you satisfy the following prima facie elements:
Furnisher: To prevail on an FCRA claim against a furnisher for violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b), the plaintiff must “prove (1) Defendant is a ‘furnisher’; (2) Plaintiff notified the [Credit Reporting Agency] that Plaintiff disputed the reporting as inaccurate; (3) the [Credit Reporting Agency] notified the furnisher of the alleged inaccurate information of the dispute; (4) the reporting was in fact inaccurate; and, (5) Defendant failed to conduct the investigation required by [15 U.S.C.] § 1681s-2(b)(1).”. Robbins v. CitiMortgage, Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 209367, at *13 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 20, 2017).
Credit Bureaus: To prevail on an FCRA claim for a violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b) against the Credit Bureaus, Plaintiff must “present evidence tending to show that a credit reporting agency prepared a report containing inaccurate information” while lacking reasonable procedures to avoid the inaccuracy. Guimond v. Trans Union Credit Info. Co., 45 F.3d 1329, 1333 (9th Cir. 1995).
To prevail on an FCRA claim for a violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681i against the Credit Bureaus, Plaintiff must prove that “(1) his consumer file contained prima facie inaccurate or incomplete information; (2) he notified Defendant of the alleged inaccuracy; (3) Defendant failed to respond or conduct a reasonable investigation of the disputed item; and, (4) Plaintiff suffered damages as a result of Defendant’s conduct.” Butler v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, No. EDCV18-2084 JGB (SHKx), 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96594, at *5 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 3, 2019).
But also do not forget that many states across the country have their own laws that regulate credit reporting. The California Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act is virtually identical. To prevail on a CCCRAA claim, the plaintiff “must prove that (1) Defendant is a ‘person’ under the CCCRAA, (2) Defendant reported information to a [Credit Reporting Agency]; (3) the information reported was inaccurate; (4) Plaintiff was harmed; and, (5) Defendant knew or should have known that the information was inaccurate.” Sanchez, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106892, at *13 citing to Robbins v. CitiMortgage, Inc., No. 16-CV-04732-LHK, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 209367, at *38 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 20, 2017); and, Cal. Civ. Code § 1785.25(a).
By going through the dispute process outlined above, the only question for litigation any of these types of claims should be the reasonableness of the investigation and the damages sought to be recovered.
Loker Law, APC | Your Inaccurate Account Information Disputes Lawyer
For any further questions about inaccurate account information disputes, or if you believe your credit report contains inaccuracies and are looking to remedy the issue, please do not hesitate to contact a California credit report lawyer right here at Loker Law, APC to schedule your free initial consultation with our firm today.