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Every day, many consumers’ rights are being violated by individuals and big corporations. Banks, lenders, employers, debt collectors, credit repair agencies, so on and so forth. Many consumers have to face these institutions and individuals by themselves, not realizing there are laws enacted to protect them and their livelihood.
It is important that you educate yourself on your rights when dealing with these people and corporations. Knowing the law can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, while also retaining your peace of mind and dignity.
It is crucial that you get a trusted consumer rights attorney on your side, if you feel that your rights have been violated. And it is of no cost to you as we offer free case reviews. We get paid, when you do. So contact us now, or fill out our online form to represent you in consumer matters.
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CREDIT REPORT ERRORS?
Under the Federal Credit Reporting Act, credit report errors can be disputed. Click here to learn more.
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We are committed to bringing our clients the peace of mind they deserve. Contact us for a free case review.
Texts or RoboCalls?
Companies are not allowed to call you without your permission. Click here to learn more.
Debt collectors are not exempt from the law. The FDCPA ensures you have rights. Click here to learn more.
Making sure you know how to deal with identity theft is crucial. Click here to learn more.
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There are three main, national consumer credit reporting agencies (CRAs): Experian Information Solutions, Inc.; Equifax Information Services, LLC; and Trans Union LLC (the “Big Three”).
How CRAs get Information
Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union all collect information from court records, banks, credit card companies, finance companies, department stores, cellular phone companies, court records, and many other companies issuing credit. The “Big Three” do not necessarily have the same credit information because not all creditors send reports to all three agencies and the agencies do not all collect information from the same public records.
When a business inquiries into or “pulls” your credit report, a search program or algorithm pulls information from the CRAs’ vast databases based on your “personal identifiers”, such as your name, address, date of birth, and social security number. The search algorithm is supposed to filter out obsolete credit information and credit information that doesn’t belong to you. The remaining information is combined into one report. Your credit report isn’t something fixed since the information used to create your credit report is constantly changing as creditors constantly provide new information about you.
STEP 1: GET A CREDIT REPORT
Get a copy of your Report: Consumers may obtain a free copy of their consumer report online at annualcreditreport.com once every twelve months from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
You are also entitled to a free report within sixty days of credit denial. The agency on which denial is based will be mentioned in the notice.
STEP 2: LOCATE THE CAUSES OF CREDIT MISTAKES
Errors in Credit Reports Occur Often. Fraud, data entry mistakes, and improper merging of information by the CRA are all examples of common errors. The errors can be caused by the creditor, the CRA, a thief, a collection agency, or public record.
Creditor error: The creditor or “furnisher” of information to the CRA provides the information in a database format that allows the CRA to bring the information right into its database without entering everything again. The individual pieces of data are known as “fields.” Some creditors use different database formats, leading to problems in providing correct consumer information, especially regarding bankruptcy.
Incorrect names: An incorrect name or social security number input by the creditor can go to the wrong consumer’s file (e.g., incomplete consumer’s name such as “J.M. Jones” could either be “John Michael Jones” or “Jay Milhous Jones” or any other combination, “Sam” could be “Samuel,” “Samson,” or a female “Samantha.”) This frequently happens with common names or where there is a junior/senior relationship.
Collection agency error: You can sue collection agencies that improperly report the information. Some companies intentionally (and illegally) place collection accounts on credit reports to get the victim to pay. Improperly reported information can also appear because creditors and credits agencies sometimes don’t provide enough identification details when inputting new information into a file.
CRA error: Most credit reporting agencies use name, address, social security number, and date of birth to identify who you are. The CRA can cause an error by incorrectly merging information where identifying information is similar. This happens most frequently where there is a junior/senior relationship. It also can happen when social security digits are similar within two digits. If the adult child with the same name as the parent moves home, big problems can result. There can also be problems where a recently married spouse has the same first name as a stepchild or the ex-spouse.
Public records error: The “Big Three” pay companies to go through court files and official records to obtain information. If the reporting agency does not have the company check often enough, the fact that a judgment or bankruptcy was later vacated or satisfied may not get reported.
STEP 3: ALWAYS DOCUMENT
Documents are important. Many credit card companies, banks, and even credit reporting agencies provide toll-free numbers and websites you can use to dispute credit errors. It’s better to document your credit error dispute on paper. If you use the phone, then you need to follow-up in writing. Acknowledge the conversation (e.g. “this letter is a follow-up to my conversation by phone with your representative named Joe Smith in which we discussed . . .”). Send everything in writing by certified mail return receipt requested. There are many reasons to write the dispute in addition to, or instead of, over the phone.
Show concern. Just the fact that you bothered to collect your thoughts and write formally shows that you truly are concerned with the credit errors on your report. If you need the help of an attorney or regulatory agency later, they are more likely to take note of the seriousness with which you regard the matter.
Accurately track case. There may be many people involved in your dispute before it is resolved. First, many of the employees of credit institutions turn over regularly and you may be sent to a different person for each investigation. Also, you may need to show your paperwork to attorneys, law enforcement (in fraud cases), regulatory agencies, and perhaps to a court. Having documents helps others “get up to speed.” Many credit companies use software to have a chronology of their contacts with you but it is recorded in a very self-serving manner to make the company look reasonable at your expense.
Trigger a legal effect. The obligations of some credit companies under some laws are not triggered unless you provide a written dispute.
STEP 4: SEND DISPUTE LETTERS
Send disputes to CRAs. Send dispute letters directly to the CRA. You must put the credit reporting agencies on notice.
Send credit disputes by certified mail return receipt requested. Many attorneys who deal with credit reporting issues think it is imperative you send the disputes by certified mail return receipt requested instead of by phone and over the internet. With certified mail, you can track the letter all the way to the credit reporting agency and document its receipt.
Where to send credit disputes: It is not absolutely necessary to send disputes to the company furnishing incorrect credit information to the CRA, but it is the only way you can be certain that the furnisher of the disputed information is fully aware of your complaint. The CRAs do not send your dispute documents to the furnisher of information—they typically just summarize the dispute into a code. Your affidavit, police report, or copies of other relevant documents will not be sent on. Send it by certified mail return receipt requested.
Styles of credit disputes: With disputes, you want to provide the information necessary to have your dispute investigated and convey what is happening to you as a result of the false credit reporting.
Need help on your credit report problems? Message us here or call 718-674-1245.
A consumer’s financial future can rise and fall on what’s in their credit report so keeping a close eye on the contents should be important to everyone.
Credit reports are used to decide who gets a loan, a credit card, a job, or even an apartment to rent, so few things are more crucial than having a credit report free of errors.
Still, credit report errors are made, and the consequences can be devastating.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970
Recognizing the life-altering power of credit information, Congress adopted the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in 1970 to protect consumers and regulate how credit information is used and disseminated. The law gives consumers the right to know what’s in their credit reports and free access to the scores that credit rating agencies assign them.
It also requires that anyone who denies a person credit, insurance or employment because of what is in their credit report, tell you where they got the information and how to contact the issuer.
Common violations of the FCRA include:
- Old information furnished as new information. Failure to update reports after completion of bankruptcy is just one example. Agencies might also report old debts as new and report a financial account as active when it was closed by the consumer.
- Creditors give reporting agencies inaccurate financial information about you.
- Reporting agencies mixing up one person’s information with another’s because of a similar (or same) last name or social security number.
- Agencies fail to follow guidelines for handling disputes.
- Pulling your report for an impermissible purpose. For instance, viewing a credit report to determine if you have assets before filing certain kinds of lawsuits.
- Failing to send you notifications about your credit report or score in violation of the FCRA.
- Reporting agencies providing information to unauthorized persons or businesses.
Not all FCRA actions are the result of errors or poorly maintained files. For example, in 2012 the Los Angeles Times reported about a data broker that agreed to pay $800,000 in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for allegations he illegally sold personal information to human resources, background screening and recruiting companies.
A credit freeze locks down your credit. A fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report as long as they take steps to verify your identity. For example, if you provide a telephone number, the business must call you to verify whether you are the person making the credit request. Fraud alerts may be effective at stopping someone from opening new credit accounts in your name, but they may not prevent the misuse of your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.
Three types of fraud alerts are available:
- Fraud Alert. If you’re concerned about identity theft, but haven’t yet become a victim, this fraud alert will protect your credit from unverified access for one year. You may want to place a fraud alert on your file if your wallet, Social Security card, or other personal, financial or account information is lost or stolen.
- Extended Fraud Alert. For victims of identity theft, an extended fraud alert will protect your credit for seven years.
- Active Duty Military Alert. For those in the military who want to protect their credit while deployed, this fraud alert lasts for one year and can be renewed for the length of your deployment. The credit bureaus will also take you off their marketing lists for pre-screened credit card offers for two years, unless you ask them not to.
To place a fraud alert on your credit reports, contact one of the nationwide credit bureaus. A fraud alert is free. The credit bureau you contact must tell the other two, and all three will place an alert on their versions of your report.
For more information,call us 718-674-1245 or email us here.
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Consumer’s rights are violated every day by big corporations and employers, and it is imperative that you get a trusted Consumer Rights Attorney on your side to help you fight for damages you are entitled to. We provide free case reviews, and we do not take a single dime from you! When you win, we win! Get in touch with us today!
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