Your financial future depends on what’s in your credit report. Your ability to get a job, rent a place to live, get a loan, and a credit card are all dependent on having an accurate credit report free of errors. Credit report violations can be devastating.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 (FCRA) gives consumers the ability to see errors in their reports and file complaints. It requires reporting agencies to investigate and correct false information.
Compensation for FCRA Credit Reporting Violations
FCRA penalizes the credit reporting agencies for not maintaining accurate files and records of consumer credit and payment information. If the errors are reported and steps are not taken to correct them, or if there has been intentional misuse or abuse of consumer data, the types of damages that you can get compensation for include:
- Actual Damages. These are payments if there is proof of intentional harm to you. Deliberate harm is when there is a case of an agency, business, or individual who harmed you due to something they did or did not do. The court determines how high an actual damages award can be.
- Statutory Damages. This kind of damage doesn’t require proof. Compensation is limited to somewhere between $100 and $1,000.
- Punitive Damages. These damages are awarded as punishment to dissuade an agency, business, or individual from further FCRA violations. The court determines how high a punitive damages award can be.
When it comes to lawsuits involving the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the attorney fees and court costs are shifted to the credit reporting agency and their attorneys. If Denbeaux & Denbeaux determine you have a legitimate case, you will not have to pay for representation.
Accessing Your Credit Report Under FCRA
You have the right to see your credit information and what’s in your file. The FCRA allows you to get a free report from each of the three credit agencies once each year,
Or for any of these reasons:
- If someone used information in the credit report to harm you.
- You’ve been an identity theft victim.
- Your file had false or erroneous information as a result of fraud.
- If you’re on public assistance or welfare.
- Or you’ve been unemployed but expect to apply for work in sixty (60) days.
Credit Report Violations to Look For
- If you see a debt that you paid off or was settled, reported as a charge off.
- If you have been making payments on-time shown as late.
- We mentioned this one before, but it bears repeating; any time you see old debts appearing as new.
- If a credit agency shows an account as active after you voluntarily closed it.
- Debt that is discharged in bankruptcy should not appear on your credit report.
- Information that is out of date should not appear on your credit report, such as data that is greater than seven (7) years old (in the case of expired bankruptcy notices) or ten (10) years old (in the case of civil judgments).
- If you see an incorrect accounting of the balance due on any account, that is an error.
- There should be a clear and understandable process to follow to report identity theft or provide credit information on an account where you previously reported identity theft.
Handling Disputes with the Credit Agencies
- You have a right to dispute erroneous, false, incomplete, or information in your report.
- The credit reporting agencies have to correct or delete this information if it is not verified.
- Reporting agencies aren’t allowed to share negative, outdated information about you.
- Only those with a valid and legitimate purpose may use the information in your credit report.
- Your written consent is required for credit agencies to give access to your credit report to employers.
These are some of the most common credit report violations of the FCRA that crop up:
- Any time old information resurfaces and is provided as new information. Such as reports that aren’t updated after a completed bankruptcy. Another example would be an old debt reported as new when the account has been closed by the consumer.
- If a creditor gives the reporting agencies erroneous or false financial information about one of your accounts, it is a violation.
- It is a violation, but a widespread violation occurs when credit agencies mix people up people due to errors caused due to similarities of identifying information such as an address, last or first name, or social security number.
- Violations occur when the credit reporting agencies don’t handle disputes according to the law stated in the FCRA.
- Unless for an authorized reason, it is a violation to pull your credit report.
- A failure to send you a notification about your credit report or score is another violation.
- It is also a violation of credit reporting agencies to provide information to unauthorized persons or businesses.
Taking Action Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
If you’ve been denied credit or suspect that credit report violations may have hurt you in error, take these steps:
- If you don’t already have it, get the name of the national credit agency who turned you down for bad credit so that you can find out why someone denied you credit, turned you down for something that involved your credit report.
- Contact that credit agency and request a copy of the report. Many times all three national credit agencies will have the same information, so it is best to check all three to be sure. Don’t worry about paying for the credit report because the agency that provided the information must give you the report within 30 days of the denial for free.
- If you find false, erroneous, or outdated information, notify the credit reporting agency in writing. Explain the error and demand that it be corrected immediately.
- If the agency investigates your error and does nothing and you are still sure the report contains errors, if you have not already done so, now is an excellent time to definitely, contact Denbeaux & Denbeaux.
- Check your credit report for accuracy. Things to look for include late payments, new accounts opened, anything that does not look right, or that you think should not be there.
As you can see, there are many ways that an FCRA violation can occur. If you need help with a suspected FCRA violation or you have brought a violation to the attention of a credit reporting agency, somebody may have violated your rights. We can help you take action and get compensation.