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Equifax Hit With Suit on False Credit Report Items – And What You Can Do To Protect Your Credit

by on July 30, 2013 · 12 comments

in Credit FAQ, Credit Repair

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Your credit score is the key to everything from getting the best points-earning credit cards to securing a loan for a home mortgage, so it’s imperative that you not only monitor it to make sure it is healthy, but that you also go over it in detail to make sure the information on it is accurate – which is not the case for 1 in 5 Americans according to the FTC.

Equifax

Luckily, you can check annualcreditreport.com or go to each reporting agencies website (experian.com, transunion.com, equifax.com) and dispute incorrect information, though that process can be long and frustrating, as one Oregon woman found out.

Julie Miller first noticed errors on her Experian credit report in 2009 when she tried to take out a loan from a bank. The errors included  an incorrect Social Security number, incorrect identifying information, a wrong birthdate and false negative information including collections account.

Miller started disputing the inaccuracies immediately and contacted Equifax eight different times, filling in the same information over and over again in the forms that the agency sent her. When she was denied another loan and contacted Equifax again, the agency told her that her information had gotten mixed up with another person’s and that she needed to contact the creditors directly to sort things out.

Miller was fed up and took her complaints to court, where a jury just awarded her an $18.6 million settlement for her troubles. The reason Miller sued Equifax in particular is because the other credit reporting agencies also had incorrect information but fixed it while the banks she was applying for loans from used Equifax, who outsources their credit repair requests to a company overseas, drawing out the process even longer. This isn’t the first time Equifax has been taken to court over reporting errors. Back in 2007, a Florida woman won $2.7 million in damages in a similar situation where the agency had mixed up the facts on her report with those of a woman with a similar name.

Though the decision in Miller’s case is likely to get appealed and the award lowered, this is still a big victory for consumers since the credit agencies are going to have to start listening more carefully when individuals contact them about irregularities on their credit report and hopefully streamline their methods for correcting errors.

It can be a long process, but if you find errors on your credit report, you should dispute them immediately.

It can be a long process, but if you find errors on your credit report, you should dispute them immediately.

If you notice errors on your credit report, here is what you should do:

1. Request a free copy of your credit report from the agency with errors and go over it in detail.

2. Contact the agency and ask to dispute the incorrect information and prepare any supporting documentation for each error you find.

3. Follow up and make sure the agency has contacted the source of the disputed information and that they have heard back from that source in a timely manner.

4. You can consider contacting the creditor or lender directly if you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, disputing their information and asking them to report the verified information back to the credit reporting agency.

5. Contact the other credit reporting agencies. Although when one agency fixes its report the other two usually follow suit quickly, that’s not always the case, so just to be sure, call them and inform them of your situation so they can fix their reports promptly.

6. Verify that the mistakes have been corrected. Credit agencies have 30 days (or 45 if your dispute is based on your annual free credit report) to investigate your claims and come to a conclusion. If your dispute has been resolved, you can then request that the agency notifies anyone who received your credit report with the incorrect information in the past six months (2 years if it’s an employer) along with notification that corrections have been made.

7. If you still cannot resolve your dispute, you can report it to a consumer reporting agency (there’s a full list here) who can take up your case and make sure that credit reporting agencies include a statement about the dispute on your credit report as long as the dispute is still active.

This site is a great step-by-step resource on what to do if you need to dispute information on your credit report and has a sample correction letter you can use if you need to file a dispute.

Here are the pages for each of the three major credit reporting agencies where you can find out how to contact them and dispute items on your credit report:

Equifax

Experian

TransUnion

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Goat Rodeo

    …. this lady will never see even 1/10th of that 18M. I’m surprised they havent appealed it already; even more surprised the judge didnt immediately change the amount to the plaintiff.

  • JustDieAlready

    This lady deserves 10 times that amount. And the CRA’s themselves deserve much MUCH worse.

  • jtgray

    How any person deserves $186 million for these inconveniences is beyond me.

  • DeservedReward

    I respectfully disagree. If you’ve ever been through this kind of situation, it seems like a pit you can’t get out of. Constantly filling out paperwork, not able to get loans, credit cards, all for something that’s not your fault.

    As for the size of the award, otherwise the CRAs would just consider this a cost of doing business. I fully support the commenter above that the lady deserves 10 times the amount.

  • Elenor

    At least there is a process for correcting credit reports. My (infuriating) problem is some @*)%!&(^#&$ (I don’t even know what!) had posted online that my house was sold in 2004 for $89k (with a first lien on it s$364k!! and by a ‘development LLC’ once located nowhere NEAR my county!). We’ve lived here without break since 2000, when we paid $182k for it! That affects EVERY algorithm for ‘home value.’ I even had a *truly crappy* appraiser (required by my credit union, paid for by me) put that wrong info into an expensive appraisal, which got me turned down for a re-fi. Along with a bunch of OTHER wrong info:
    No attic?! He climbed up into it and took a PHOTO of the attic!
    No fence? Explain the 173 feet of fence we had put in!
    No remodel in 8 years — explain the $80k we spent on the remodel 4 years ago, and the total hardwood floors we did 5 months before the appraisal!?

    (The credit union: “oh, well, we sent the appraisal back to him for correction, which he did but it did not change the appraisal amount.” ?!?! You’re kidding, right?)

    The COUNTY records show the correct info — but it’s a +&@%^# game of whack-a-mole. I go after one incorrect posting — and they fix it (usually) and it just pops up somewhere else! Insanity. (Or, at least, it’s driving ME insane!)

  • jtgray

    I’ve spent the past 10 years working 50 hours a week and have barely cracked $1 million in earnings. While I admit that the hassles that this woman went through must have been extremely stressful, inconvenient, and damaging, to claim that they are worth $186 million is insulting to the rest of us who work hard daily to earn a living. She is certainly entitled to compensation for her losses, both emotional and quantifiable, but $186 million is crazy.

  • jtgray

    And if you are worried the CRA’s will just consider this a cost of doing business, then we should expand the lawsuit to class action status and get EVERYONE who deserves it a piece of the $186 million, not just this one woman.

  • anonymous

    It’s 18.6, not 186!!! And why are you sympathizing with a credit bureau? They are CRIMINALS!!! $18.6 million is NOTHING to them. You’re right though, it should be a class action lawsuit against all 3 credit bureaus – force them into bankruptcy, distribute their assets to screwed citizens, and forbid these criminals from ever doing this kind of business again, EVER. Also, claw back the millions or billions the executives of these credit bureaus have stolen over the years – force them into personal bankruptcy and bad credit also! See how they like it!

  • Pingback: Which Credit Reporting Agencies Banks Use To Pull Your Credit Report – And Why It Matters | The Points Guy

  • jtgray

    Just responding to JustDieAlready’s comment that they deserve 10x the amount = $186 mil. So…you yell at me, and then tell me I am right. I’m not sympathizing with the credit bureau’s AT ALL. I’m just saying that one person doesn’t deserve $186mil, or $18.6mil, for these types of troubles. That’s more than 99% of Americans make in a lifetime.

  • sal

    a settlement has nothing to do with what you make. If you want to make more money go back to school and be a CEO of a fortune 500 company

  • Ronaldus_Maximus

    CRA’s are criminals.

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