TransUnion and Equifax are refunding $17.7 million to consumers and paying $5.5 million in fines for giving consumers misleading and deceptive credit scores.
Fair Credit Reporting Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires credit reporting agencies to provide accurate information to lenders. The FCRA also creates legal rights for consumers whose information is being investigated and misrepresented by credit reporting agencies such as TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
Credit report agencies make money off of lenders who are requesting credit reports to justify loans and interest rates. Credit report agencies are not government funded. Credit reports are often required for loans on larger purchases such as cars and homes mortgages. Credit reporting agencies over report negative credit information to lenders, such as missed payments and debts. Lenders make more money off of people who are deemed a higher credit risk because they can enforce higher interest rates. Therefore, a lender will keep returning to a credit reporting agency who can help provide information that can support higher interest rates.
Consumer Rights Protected by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
A consumer has the right to have an accurate credit report distributed to lenders. A consumer also has the right to challenge credit report agencies who are providing false or inaccurate information. A lender must provide a consumer with the name of the credit reporting agency who allegedly provided inaccurate information on a credit report if requested.
The FCRA also made it illegal for credit reporting agencies to provide subjective information on a credit report such as religion, race, how long you have been committed to your job and details about other people you may live with.
How Can a Consumer Challenge a Credit Reporting Agency Under the FCRA?
A consumer must send a written letter to the credit report agency detailing the inaccurate information provided on the credit report. It is important for the consumer to provide as much documentation as possible to support why the information is inaccurate. Depending on the inaccurate information bank statements, records, and receipts of purchases are good examples of documents to provide.
A credit reporting agency who receives a letter must re investigate in the information being provided on the consumers credit report. Then must reply to the consumer detailing if the information was corrected or not. If a credit reporting agency refuses to fix inaccurate information, the consumer should then seek out a consumer lawyer to help sue the company.
What Type of FCRA Damages Can a Consumer Sue For?
- Actual damages are real losses for the consumer. Regarding the FCRA, a consumer might experience financial loss due to inaccurate information being provided on a credit report. A consumer who receives a higher interest rate on a loan or mortgage can experience economic loss and possibly debt.
- Statutory damages are when the credit reporting agency is providing inaccurate information, but the consumer has not financially been affected yet. The inaccurate information could be preventing the consumer from even acquiring a loan.
- Punitive damages are deliberate wrongdoings by a credit reporting agency. An example of a wrongdoing would be a credit report agency refusing to read a letter from a consumer or refusing to re investigate the information being provided on a credit report. Punitive damages are rare in cases regarding the FCRA.
A credit reporting agency will also be responsible for paying lawyer fees if the consumer wins the case.
Why May There Be Inaccurate Information on a Credit Report?
Mistaken identity is an issue the credit reporting agencies battle. These mistakes are often due to a merged file. Consumers with common last names and the same first names can be confused. False addresses can appear on credit reports from someone with the same name living at a different address. Seniors and Juniors can be commonly confused especially if they live at the same address to.
There are many complaints about credit report agencies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does not have resources and funding to check all the information the credit report agencies are providing to lenders.
How Can a Consumer Check Their Credit Report?
Consumers are able to access their credit report annually from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Most negative information is only listed on a credit report for seven years. Bankruptcy is usually listed for ten years. Also consumers have to give permission to lenders to look at their credit report.
You can find more information about the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by reading 23 Legal Defenses to Foreclosure: How to Beat the Bank by Troy Doucet. If in Ohio, call Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. at (614) 944-5219 for a consultation.