(US Law) A recent study that has been released by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has found that 26 percent of consumers have a material error on at least one of their three credit reports. Of the consumers in the study, 5 percent that had an error, once it was corrected they were placed in a different credit risk tier. This means that they could have been paying lower interest rates on automobile and home loans or credit cards.
This could also subject yourself aggressive debt collects violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). There are certain provisions of the FDCPA that you must read about and know how to protect yourself from.
Errors on your credit report can cost you hundreds of dollars over a year or two of paying higher insurance premiums and higher interest rates. Even if the errors seem minor, they can have a significant negative impact. Therefore it is important that consumers review their credit report, at least once a year. You can receive one free credit report from the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com.
It is up to you as a consumer to spot problems with your credit report. Even though you have to submit your middle initial, address, and Social Security number to access your credit report, there are cases where lenders can access credit reports based on criteria that are looser, such as using fewer Social Security digits. As a result, accounts or inquires for new debt from someone else who has a similar name and Social Security number may end up in your report. Since credit scores are based on the information that is in the report, you could be penalized for the bad behavior of someone else.
A number of other things could go wrong with your credit report:
- An account could be opened in your name by an identity thief or they could run up debts that will not be paid after changing one of your accounts to a different address (you may not learn that such an account exists until the debt collectors start calling).
- Bills that you paid might not be posted.
- Bills might be posted to the wrong account.
- Amounts owed might not be correct.
- Medical bills that were supposed to be paid by your insurer but weren’t may linger as an unpaid debt.
Additionally, as debts are turned over to collectors more problems with your credit report can arise. As the debt changes hands, the same debt can reappear on your credit report with a more recent delinquency date, despite the original delinquency date being the only legal date.
Fixing the Problem
Congress passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act several years ago, gives you the right to dispute items that appear on your credit report with the appropriate credit bureau. Should you find an error, you will need to dispute it by writing the credit bureau. Documentation will need to be sent that supports your claim, not just to the credit bureau, but also to the company that is responsible for the item that was reported in error. Support can include pertinent emails, faxes or letters, canceled checks (copies of both the front and back), and billing statements.
After it has received your letter, the credit bureau is legally required to respond within 30 business days. This allows the credit bureau time to investigate your claim. However, investigating only entails going back to the entity that provided the information and asking that they verify it. Unfortunately, credit bureaus are not in the business of determining who is correct in these disputes. They most often go with the company that furnished information, as long as they believe that it is in the best position to know.
Before Applying for Credit on Big Purchases
When you are considering applying for credit on big items (such as a mortgage), experts recommend that you obtain your credit reports at least three months prior to applying. There are two reasons why it is a good idea that you look at a recent report. First, you want to be able to see your current information. Second, the report that you will get will be easier to read and understand than the one the lender receives.
If you are unable to settle your dispute with the credit bureau, you do have other options available to you. A statement can be added to your credit file that explains why you disagree with the item. Future creditors may take this into consideration when they review your credit application. You may also want to involve the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”). The CFPB will take your complaint online provided that you have first disputed the item with the appropriate credit bureau. The agency will then forward your complaint to the credit bureau and request that it be investigated again.
Hire an Attorney
If you are unable to resolve the situation on your own, you can get help from an attorney. There are many attorneys that will handles these types of disputes on a contingency bases. Therefore you will pay nothing unless you are awarded damages either in a settlement or a lawsuit. An attorney will also often offer a free consultation upfront and possibly even help you draft a letter that you would send to dispute the item on your credit report.
We understand the frustration you may have when dealing with an aggressive debt collector. We have been successfully representing those abused and taken advantage of by debt collectors for years, and have a long list of successful stories to share with you. We offer a FREE CASE REVIEW for you to assess whether we can assist you with your matter. Please do not hesitate to contact us toll free at 1-800-875-3666 if you prefer to talk to a trained professional over the phone instead, or of course, visit our website at http://www.krohnandmoss.com/.