Dispute Process

Experian Sued for Mixing the Credit Files of People Who Share the Same Name

Experian Sued for Mixing the Credit Files of People Who Share the Same Name

A federal lawsuit has been filed against Experian in the United States District Court, Western District of Wisconsin, for merging the credit file of one individual with the credit file of another who share the same first and last name.

While applying for a mortgage, the plaintiff in the above mentioned case discovered that Experian had included no less than twenty-three (23) tradelines (bits of credit information) which did not belong to her on the credit report used to determine her credit worthiness. After being denied the loan, the plaintiff obtained her credit file from Experian. She then contacted an Experian representative by phone to dispute the inaccurate tradelines. The Experian representative confirmed that the tradelines in question belonged to another consumer and promised to have them removed from her credit file.

However, the information contained within the credit reports which Experian provided to the loan officer, is different than the information contained within the consumer report the plaintiff received when she requested her credit report from Experian. This is not uncommon. Rather it’s standard procedure.

Identity Theft Leads to Federal Lawsuit Against Citibank & Experian

Identity Theft Leads to Federal Lawsuit Against Citibank & Experian

The dispute process is critical to ensuring the accuracy of credit reporting, and to protecting the rights of the millions of consumers whose livelihoods, housing, insurance and access to credit depend on accurate reporting. 

Identity theft has led to a federal lawsuit being filed against Citibank North America, Inc. (Citibank) and Experian Information Solutions, Inc. (Experian). Both Citibank and Experian are being sued for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) because they reported fraudulent information (among other things) after it was disputed.

The case involves the plaintiff’s identity being stolen by a relative. The thief used plaintiffs identity to open two credit card accounts with Citibank.

How to Dispute Errors on Credit Reports

How to Dispute Errors on Credit Reports

4 Simple Steps on How to Dispute Inaccuracies on Credit Reports

Disputing inaccuracies on a credit report can be a daunting task. Following these step-by-step instructions will aid you in correcting credit reporting errors in the most timely manner possible:

Step 1: Obtain your free credit reports

Obtaining your credit report is the first step in disputing any inaccurate or wrong information which may appear on it. Federal law requires the three national credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union, to provide you with a free credit report every year. Most likely, each of these credit reporting agencies has a credit file on you. Get all three of your credit reports.

Update: Credit Industry Reform

Update: Credit Industry Reform

An update on the National Consumer Assistance Plan

On March 8, 2015, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion (CRAs) entered into a settlement agreement with the NY Attorney General along with 31 additional AGs from other states. Upon entering the agreement, the CRAs announced that they would address a number of credit reporting industry problems, including their dispute process and how they handle unpaid medical debt. This agreement is referred to as the National Consumer Assistance Plan.

The credit reporting industry overhaul is taking place nationally over the course of three plus years with 2018 as the deadline to have all changes made. The overhaul will be implemented in three phases (detailed below) to allow the CRAs to update their IT systems and procedures with data furnishers.

To date, changes to websites and other technical tasks have been acomplished. A change to be implemented this September will address the dispute process. The CRAs will be using trained and empowered employees to review the documentation accompanying disputes. And, if a furnisher says its information is correct, the credit reporting agencies must still look into it and resolve the dispute.

In addition, the credit reporting overhaul will require CRAs to wait 180 days before adding any medical debt

What to do if Your Credit Dispute is Denied

What to do if Your Credit Dispute is Denied

Your legal rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act

According to the FCRA, the credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian & Trans Union (also referred to as CRAs) must investigate your dispute. Upon receipt of your dispute, the CRAs have 30 days to complete their investigation and provide you with their findings. The law requires their findings to be accompanied by a free credit report. If their investigation led to the denial of your credit dispute, now is the time to seek legal counsel to enforce your legal rights.

Prior to obtaining legal representation, ensure you have followed the dispute process accordingly. (See step-by-step instructions on Disupting Credit Report Errors here). 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Credit Reports

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Credit Reports

John Oliver on the Credit Reporting Industry

Earlier this month, HBO's John Oliver of Last Week Tonight did a segment on credit reports. The segment highlights studies which report major problems in the credit reporting industry. The studies reveal that credit reports contain a shocking number of errors. One study found that 25% of consumers had errors in their credit reports. That means that 1 and 4 credit reports have an error. The study further states that 1 and 20 credit reports contain sufficient errors that would make a consumer pay more for a car loan or a mortgage. Credit report errors vary by type and may be serious enough to deny an application for credit, housing or employment.

How to Dispute Errors on a Credit Report

Step 1: Obtain your free credit reports
Obtaining your credit report is the first step in disputing any inaccurate or wrong information which may appear on it. Federal law requires the three national credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union, to provide you with a free credit report every year. Most likely, each of these credit reporting agencies has a credit file on you. Get all three of your credit reports. 

CRA Reinvestigation Obligations Under the FCRA

When a consumer disputes the completeness or accuracy of any information contained in his/her credit report, the consumer reporting agency (CRA) must conduct a "reinvestigation."  The term "reinvestigation" is a statutory term under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). If the reinvestigation reveals that the information is inaccurate or cannot be verified, the CRA must promptly delete the information. 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(a). Failure to conduct a reasonable reinvestigation violates the FCRA. Cushman v. Trans Union Corp., 115 F.3d 220, 223–24 (3d Cir.1997). The burden to conduct the reinvestigation is on the credit reporting agency. It cannot be shifted back to the consumer.

A credit reporting agency's reinvestigation obligation is to verify the accuracy of its original source of information. This duty may include going beyond the original source. Whether the credit reporting agency must go beyond the original source depends on a number of factors, including: (1) whether the consumer has alerted the CRA that the original source may be unreliable; (2) whether the CRA itself knows or should know that the original source is unreliable; and (3) the comparative costs of verifying the accuracy of the original sources versus the potential harm the inaccurate information may cause the consumer. Dixon-Rollins v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., 753 F.Supp.2d 452 (2010).

Does Your Credit Report Have Errors?

What should you do if you learn that your credit report has errors? You can either contact us about how to proceed or send a dispute to the consumer reporting agency (CRA) on your own. There are several ways to initiate the dispute process with the CRAs, including using the dispute form which you may have received when you ordered your credit report; using the CRAs online dispute form; sending a dispute letter by mail (certified mail is recommended but not required); or by telephone. Whichever method you choose, you should remember to keep an accurate record of your dispute, including a copy of your dispute form or letter. If you use the online dispute form, you should take a screen shot of your dispute before sending it. 

How to Dispute a Credit Report

How to Dispute Credit Report
How to Dispute Credit Report

Obtaining your credit report is the first step in disputing any inaccurate or wrong information which may appear on it. Federal law requires the three national credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union, to provide you with a free credit report every year. Get your free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com; which is the official site to help consumers obtain their free credit report. Inaccuracies on your credit report may negatively affect you. If you find wrong information on your credit report start here:

Contact the credit reporting company in question. The disputing procedure can be initiated online.

  • To dispute a credit report from Experian,click here.
  • To dispute a credit report from Trans Union, click here.
  • To dispute a credit report from Equifax, click here.

Credit reporting companies must investigate disputes made by consumers. Thirty (30) days after the dispute is initiated, credit reporting companies are required to provide consumers with the results. The results should be accompanied by a free credit report. If the disputed information has not been corrected following the credit reporting companies dispute procedures, consider seeking legal action.

More About How Trans Union Processes Consumer Disputes - E-OSCAR and the ACDV Process

In 2005, a Trans Union ("TU") representative testified as follows regarding TU's procedures to conduct reinvestigations when a consumer disputes inaccurate information on their credit report: In general, when TU receives a dispute from a consumer, TU investigates the dispute using one of two systems developed for the purpose of processing and tracking disputes: the mail Consumer Dispute Verification process (“CDV”) and; the electronic Automated Consumer Dispute Verification process (“ACDV”) utilized in the instant matter.

How does Trans Union process consumer disputes?

In general, when Trans Union receives a dispute from a consumer, Trans Union investigates the dispute using one of two systems developed for the purpose of processing and tracking disputes, the Consumer Dispute Verification process (“CDV”) and the Automated Consumer Dispute Verification process (“ACDV”).  Through the ACDV process, Trans Union contacts the furnisher of the disputed credit information and, via an automated process, asks the furnisher to verify that the indicative (e.g., name, social security number, address, date of birth, etc.) information on the consumer matches the indicative information maintained in the furnisher’s records and is associated with the particular account being disputed.  Trans Union also asks the furnisher to verify the accuracy of the account information, e.g. account balance, payment history, credit limit, etc., being reported to Trans Union by the furnisher.

If the furnisher verifies that the reported information is correct, Trans Union updates the information on the consumer's credit file and notifies the consumer of that fact. If the furnisher reports that the information is inaccurate or can no longer be verified, or if the creditor does not respond within the required time, Trans Union deletes the information from the consumer's credit file and notifies the consumer that the information has been deleted.  Trans Union may employ additional procedures depending on the precise dispute involved and the circumstances of the case.

Have you found inaccurate information on your credit report?

If you are having problems related to inaccurate information on your credit report, we recommend that you investigate your credit history thoroughly.  The information below may assist you with your efforts.  In addition, you should attempt to collect the following information:

  • Copies of all credit reports containing the inaccurate information and any previous credit reports you may possess;
  • Copies of all dispute letters you wrote to the consumer reporting agencies or creditors and any responses you received;
  • Copies of all documents that prove the information you are disputing is indeed inaccurate; and
  • Copies of all documents that prove you have suffered damages as a result of the reporting errors: This includes letters turning you down for credit, notices of interest rate hikes, medical bills for stress-related ailments and other damages.

How to Dispute Errors on a Credit Report

Step 1: Obtain your free credit reports
Obtaining your credit report is the first step in disputing any inaccurate or wrong information which may appear on it. Federal law requires the three national credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union, to provide you with a free credit report every year. Most likely, each of these credit reporting agencies has a credit file on you. Get all three of your credit reports.

You can get your free credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the only official site to help consumers obtain their free credit report. You may contact the credit reporting agencies directly, but consumer beware! These credit reporting agencies own businesses which easily trick the consumer into buying their credit scores rather than providing the consumer with their actual free credit report (legally known as the "consumer report").

Step 2: Initiate dispute with the credit reporting agency
Dispute errors on your credit report by using the FTC's sample complaint letter. Make copies of supportive documentation and mail your dispute to the credit reporting agency reporting the error(s). Mail your dispute letter & enclosures via certified mail - return receipt to: 

Trans Union
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
Phone: (800) 916-8800

Equifax
Complaint Department
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
Phone: (888) 873-5420

Experian
NCAC
701 Experian Parkway
Allen, TX 75013
Phone: (800) 583-4080

Step 3: Initiate dispute with the furnisher
Contact the furnisher of the inaccurate information. Use the FTC's sample complaint letter to use to dispute inaccurate information with providers. 

Step 4: Wait for response
Credit reporting agencies must investigate disputes made by consumers. Thirty (30) days after the dispute is initiated, credit reporting companies are required (by law) to provide consumers with the results. The results should be accompanied by a free credit report. If the disputed is not resolved, consider seeking legal action.