Florida FCRA Violations Lawyers
Is There a Mistake on Your Credit Report?
A good credit score (or more importantly a good credit history) is a badge of honor for many Americans. The information contained in a consumer’s credit report can change how much you pay for a car loan or a home mortgage. With a good credit score, you can get a better interest rate on a home mortgage and save thousands and thousands of dollars. Likewise, if you have a lower credit score, you will pay more for everything you finance. To put it simply, a good credit score will give you access to better rates on home mortgages and car loans.
However, most Americans do not check their credit reports on a regular basis. They rely on their creditors to present accurate information to the credit reporting agencies. This, however, is a huge mistake. According to the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC), one in five Americans has inaccuracies on their credit report. This statistic reveals why it is so important to check your credit report at least once a year. Unfortunately, because many Americans do not check their credit reports on a regular basis, they are usually shocked when they are making a large purchase and a mistake or an inaccuracy rears its ugly head.
To minimize the chances of having an error on your credit report, we suggest that you go to each of the credit reporting agencies and pull one report per quarter. Experian in April, Equifax in August and TransUnion in December. Every year, every American has the opportunity to pull a free credit report from each of these credit reporting agencies. Why not take advantage of this? Even if the credit reporting agencies are not providing the exact same information, you will have an opportunity to notice any apparent discrepancies and nip the problem in the bud before it has the chance to grow into a much larger issue.
If you believe you have an error on your credit report or if you believe your credit information was unlawfully used, and you are not sure what to do, contact our Florida FCRA violation lawyers or request a complimentary strategy session with our team: (800) 391-4337.
What Is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that regulates how Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) do business. It regulates how credit reports can be used and governs businesses that provide information to the CRAs.
The FCRA attempts to protect Americans privacy by restricting what can appear on a person’s credit report, as well as how those credit reports can be used in business, by placing parameters on the credit reporting agencies and those who furnish information to them/use them.
Think of it like this: every day when you use your credit cards, debit cards, store credit cards, and even your toll sticker for highway tolls, a little bit of data is being collected about you. The same is true for each and every American who uses these items. Data brokers are collecting information and selling it to third parties. Some of this information can go on your credit reports, and some of it cannot. Additionally, any information that is provided to the CRAs must be truthful and accurate.
What Happens If Your Credit Report Is Inaccurate?
A consumer has the right to dispute any inaccurate information on his or her credit report. The FCRA has a procedure that any consumer can follow to dispute any inaccuracies on his or her credit report. The FCRA also has a damage provision; under this provision, Americans have the right to sue a credit repair agency, as well as the furnisher of inaccurate information, if that inaccurate information causes damages.
Importantly, the FCRA does not say that inaccurate information on the credit report imposes liability on the CRAs. This is important because inaccurate information can be fixed through the dispute process, but the consumer is the one who needs to initiate the dispute process. The dispute process is very important because before liability can be imposed, the consumer needs to determine if the company furnishing the information provided inaccurate information to the CRA or if the CRA got it wrong. Once the consumer determines who is at fault, then liability can be imposed.
How Does the Dispute Process Work?
First, the consumer must pull the credit reports and examine them. The first time the consumer does this, it will take a little bit of time to understand what information is being provided and whether or not it’s accurate. Once the consumer decides that there is inaccurate information, the next step is to start the disputing process.
A consumer can go through the CRA’s website to dispute items on his or her credit report, but we do not recommend this. Instead, we recommend that the consumer writes a letter to the credit reporting agency and send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, along with all of their supporting documentation. At the same time, we highly recommend making a copy of that letter (and all the supporting documentation) and sending it to the information furnisher, as well. Obviously, we highly recommend that the consumer keep a copy for themselves and all the evidence that they provided in support thereof, as well as the green cards for the certified mail.
Once the CRAs have the dispute in their hands, they must pass this information along to the furnisher who provided the erroneous information. At that point in time, the consumer has done all they can to dispute this information, and now it is in the hands of the CRA and the creditor to get it right. The CRA must have reasonable procedures in place to ensure the accuracy of all information placed on an individual’s credit report.
Often, the inaccuracy will be repaired, but sometimes it will not be. In those cases, when the inaccurate information remains on the credit report, we move to the next level and determine what a consumer’s damages are. The consumer’s damages will be different in each and every case. The damages will depend on many different factors, and they must be determined after a consultation with your attorney.
What Is an Example of Damages?
Let’s say you are applying for a mortgage and your credit score should be perfect. However, one credit card is the reporting that you failed to make a payment in December of last year. That one blemish on your credit report could be the difference in you getting a mortgage at 3% and a mortgage at 4% interest rate. Your damages for that in accuracy would be 1% interest over the life of the mortgage. If you are successful in your case, you may also get your attorneys’ fees and costs paid as well. This example shows why it is extremely important for a consumer to monitor their credit reports and for businesses to get them right. That 1% difference in mortgage interest could turn into tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
If you feel that your credit reporting agency and/or the furnisher of information for that agency has been reporting inaccurately, give us a call today. Our Florida FCRA violations lawyers can walk you through your options and represent your best interests.
Call (800) 391-4337 to schedule your complimentary strategy session.
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