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PROCEDURE FOR YOU TO CORRECT ERRORS ON CREDIT REPORTS:
Website: Another easy way to dispute errors on your credit report is online. Each of the credit reporting agencies provides a means for submitting disputes online. This is almost as easy as disputing the error by telephone. This has the advantage of allowing you to upload documents to support your dispute. The major disadvantage is that you are not triggering your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The web addresses for reporting errors on credit reports to the Credit Reporting Agencies are:
Note that these web addresses change from time to time.
In Writing: The best way to dispute errors is in writing by sending your written dispute together with supporting documentation to the Credit Reporting Agency. If you dispute errors in writing and they fail to correct the errors you may be able to sue them for violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act which allows you to collect damages and requires them to pay your attorney’s fees.
The mailing addresses for sending disputes to the credit reporting agencies are:
Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Experian Credit Report Dispute
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
In your written dispute you should include:
- Your full name and address;
- Include identification, such as a copy of your driver’s license and a utility bill;
- A statement instructing the credit reporting agency to investigate the disputed issue;
- A description of the error together with the account number;
- A brief statement of the reason why you believe the current information is incorrect;
- Include the language “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct”
at the end of your dispute letter, just before your signature; and
- Copies of supporting documents, when appropriate.
You must keep copies of everything you send. You should send your dispute via certified mail without return receipt. This is inexpensive but still allows you verification of the date that the dispute was delivered.
You should send a copy of your dispute to the credit card company, collection agency or other entity that is reporting the error. When the Credit Reporting Agency receives your dispute they will forward a copy of your dispute to the underlying creditor. That creditor is required to conduct an investigation using all of the information reasonable available to it. If you sent a dispute directly to the underlying creditor, the information and attachments in your dispute become part of the information that was “reasonably available” to it. This is evidence that can be used against them if it becomes necessary to sue them. Remember to send your dispute via certified mail and to keep a copy of the dispute and all attachments.
Credit reporting agencies are required to investigate the items in question within 30 days of the dispute being filed. The credit reporting agency receiving the dispute must forward all relevant information to the source of the information to begin the investigation process. After the underlying creditor’s investigation is complete, the results are sent back to the credit reporting agency. If the information provider agrees that the information was in error and makes the correction it must notify all three credit reporting companies, allowing each of them to correct the information in their files.
WHAT TO DO IF CREDIT REPORTING AGENCIES REFUSE TO CORRECT ERRORS:
Try again: One option is to try again. Submit your dispute with additional details and attachments that may help them to come to the correct result.
Live with it: If you disagree with the results of an investigation, you can add a statement on your credit report explaining the error and the dispute. Your statement must be 100 words or less. The statement will be included in your credit report when it is reviewed by potential lenders. You can also ask to have your statement sent to anyone who received a copy of your credit report in the recent past. The error won’t last forever. It should fall off 7 years after charge-off.
File a lawsuit: A final option is to sue them. The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides that you can sue the credit reporting agency for failure to correct errors on your credit report. You can collect damages of $100 to $1000 per violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You can also recover attorney’s fees and, in special circumstances, you can recover for any actual harm you suffer. The ability to recover attorney’s fees makes this statute unusual and it can inspire an attorney to represent you without you being worried about how you will pay for the attorney.
Small Claims Court: The easiest option is to file a lawsuit in Small Claims Court. This will limit your recover to $10,000 [or $6,000 if you have filed multiple lawsuits]. One major advantage of suing in Small Claims Court is the limit on the amount you can recover. Because of this limit a credit reporting agency may decide that it is not cost-effective to defend the lawsuit. You may still have problems collecting the money awarded in your judgment and using the judgment to force them to correct your credit report, but getting a judgment without them defending would be a major step in the right direction.
Superior Court: In Superior Court there are no limits on how much money you can be awarded. If you can show actual harm suffered, the Court can award millions. This is unlikely but possible. Because of this possibility the credit reporting agency will defend the lawsuit. They will hire a large law firm and have the matter removed to Federal Court where they will litigate aggressively. You will be at an unfair disadvantage if you do not have an experienced attorney.
Because the Fair Credit Reporting Act will allow you to recover attorney’s fees from the credit reporting agency you should consult with a local attorney familiar with the Fair Credit Reporting Act to determine the best course of action.
If you identify errors on your credit report there are several ways to dispute the errors.
Telephone: The easiest way to dispute errors on your credit reports is to call the credit reporting agency and make your dispute over the phone. This is an effective, efficient way to resolve most problems. The major problem with this method is that you do not trigger any of the legal protections available to you under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If they correct the problems this is not an issue, but if they fail to correct the errors you will not have any of the rights to sue for violation of errors that you would have if you were to have submitted the dispute in writing. Another problem is that you do not have the opportunity to submit documents to prove the error.
The telephone numbers for reporting errors on credit reports to the Credit Reporting Agencies are:
Equifax: 800 685-1111. The Equifax web page advises that you will need the 10-digit Report Confirmation number off your Equifax Credit Report.
Note that these phone numbers change from time to time.