Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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Oregon Woman Wins $18M Judgment Against Major Credit Bureau

The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives consumers the right to use a credit reporting agency who violates their rights. An Oregon woman recently won an $18.4 million judgment against Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, for violation of her credit reporting rights.

Julie Miller, the plaintiff in the case against Equifax, initially requested her credit report from Equifax after being denied credit. When she finally obtained her credit report she found evidence of identity theft – the wrong social security number, an inaccurate birthday, and debt collections that didn’t belong to her. So, she disputed the inaccurate information – four times and her credit report was not changed.

The plaintiff disputed her credit report with Equifax nine times over two years and was denied credit an additional time during this period, according to complaint. Over this period of time, she went through an undoubtedly stressful process of requesting her credit report, being asked to verify her identity to receive the report, and sometimes receiving no response, not even a credit report, from Equifax. After discovering the fraudulent accounts, she repeatedly disputed the fraudulent accounts and continuing to see no changes in her credit report.

Miller was awarded $18.6 million - $18.4 million in punitive damages and $180,000 in compensatory damages, according to OregonLive.com.

It’s been repeatedly reported that the credit report dispute process doesn’t always work as intended. The process is done electronically – even if you submit a dispute by mail – between the credit bureau’s and the creditor’s computer systems. If the creditor’s system “verify” the inaccurate information, meaning the error originates with the creditor not the credit bureau, the error remains on your credit report.

The FCRA was amended to give consumers the right to dispute credit report information directly with the information furnisher, that is, the business who originally reported the inaccurate information. Then, when the creditor determines the information is indeed inaccurate, they are required to notify the credit bureaus.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently began receiving credit bureau complaints. The CFPB don’t necessarily force the bureaus to update consumer credit reports, but the bureau does help facilitate a result. With enough complaints about the credit bureaus and the credit report dispute process, the CFPB may file lawsuit against noncompliant credit reporting agencies or create guidelines to better protect consumer rights.

Remember that you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report within 60 days of being denied credit, if your credit report was used in the decision. The credit report must come from the same bureau used by the creditor in processing your application.

If you discover inaccurate information, dispute it first with the credit bureau. Credit bureaus are supposed to investigate then let you know the results, issuing an updated copy of your credit report if changes are made. Following up with the creditor who listed the information is a step you can take if the credit bureau verifies the inaccurate information.

Keep accurate records of your correspondence, including dates you apply for credit, request your credit report, and send any dispute letters (via certified mail with return receipt request). That way, you have accurate records if you decide to later sue for violation of your rights.

Source: OregonLive.com
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Monday, 21 October 2019

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