Last week I wrote about what a consumer should do if they believe they are the victim of Identity Theft. This week I want to talk about what a Consumer should do if they identify inaccurate information on a credit report that is not the result of Identity Theft. This would be a situation in which an account discharged in bankruptcy is being reported as past due on a credit report, or if the balance on a home loan is listed as being significant greater than it actually is. There are many different examples of what would qualify as inaccurate information.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) was established to make sure that those that circulate credit information are obliged to circulate accurate credit information. The FCRA establishes, among other things, procedures that must be followed to ensure that consumer credit files are accurate. Effectively the FCRA makes every consumer an enforcer of the law. If a consumer notices inaccurate information in their credit report, they can alert the consumer agencies of the inaccuracy and basically require that the agency perform an investigation to verify the accuracy of the information or remove it if the investigation establishes that the information is wrong.
Sadly, the investigation procedures established by consumer reporting agencies and the furnishers of credit information are usually insufficient.Even if the information is obviously wrong, the investigation will result in verification of the wrong information. Rather than perform a real investigation into the matter, the agencies will reduce the argument into some sort of code and relay that information to another department or even a third party to verify the information. Usually, in breaking down the information into code the credit reporting bureau does not include enough information for a true investigation. If the credit reporting agency fails to maintain reasonable procedures to ensure maximum possible accuracy, then they are in violation of the FCRA.
So what should you do if you’ve identified inaccurate information on your credit report? You need to send a letter to the credit reporting agency that is reporting the information. You may even want to send a dispute letter to the party that is listing the account. In the letter you need to include as much information about the account as possible and why you believe it is inaccurate. If you have some sort of evidence that shows the information is inaccurate you should attach a copy of the evidence to the letter. Once you’ve sent the letter, the credit agency is obligated to investigate the matter and determine the accuracy of the information. If they fail to remove inaccurate information, depending on the information you send to them in your letter, then they are in violation of the law.