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How to Protect Yourself Using the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

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The “Big 3” credit reporting agencies—EquifaxExperian, and Trans Union—hold tremendous power over our lives.  Our credit reports influence our abilities to get mortgages, loans, and jobs.

You should therefore regularly obtain copies of your credit reports, and you should review them for errors because errors in our credit reports can create problems in our lives.

What should you do if you spot an error (or errors) in your credit report?  Your credit report will give you instructions about how to file a dispute.  Although you can file a dispute by telephone, we recommend that you file your dispute in writing and keep a copy of your written submission for your records.

The credit reporting agency should correspond with you upon receiving your dispute, confirming that it has received the dispute and advising you that the agency has 30 days to complete an investigation.

The credit reporting agency should then provide you a report of the agency’s investigation.  The agency’s investigation may result in your credit report being corrected.  The fact that one agency has corrected its report does not mean that other agencies have corrected their reports, however.  You should verify that each credit reporting agency is reporting your credit history correctly.

Credit reporting agencies do not always correct errors contained in your credit report, even though you report the error to the agency and the agency conducts an investigation.  Sometimes the error remains, even after the agency’s investigation is done.  What should you do then?

If your credit reporting agency fails to correct an error in your credit report after you have properly disputed the error and after the agency has investigated your dispute, you should consult a lawyer experienced in vindicating consumer rights through the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  The FCRA subjects credit reporting agencies to liability if they: (1) fail to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information in consumer reports, or (2) fail to comply with statutory requirements regarding investigating errors in credit reports.  Consumers injured by the failure of credit reporting agencies to meet these obligations can file FCRA claims in Court to get the errors corrected and to recover damages.

Benjamin T. King of Douglas, Leonard & Garvey is a lawyer experienced in litigating Fair Credit Reporting Act claims.  You can contact him at (603) 288-1403 or fill out our online contact form.