THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION CONFIRMS IT-OVER 40 MILLION AMERICANS HAVE ERRORS IN THEIR CREDIT REPORTS
Recently, the Federal Trade Commission released a study which confirms what consumer advocates have known for quite some time. A significant number of Americans have errors and/or inaccurate information being shown in their credit reports. Note the recent articles which have been written on the subject:
Credit reports are used by banks, lenders, potential employers, insurance companies and others to make decisions concerning loans, job offers and whether or not to accept your application for something. An inaccurate credit report can be devastating to your financial future, and getting the Credit Reporting Agencies and/or the institutions reporting the inaccurate or false information to correct your report can be extraordinarily difficult. For a better idea of how frustrating and devastating the process can be, watch this report from the February 10, 2013 edition of 60 minutes:
What does this mean for you? It means that whether you are someone who has always paid his or her bills on time and think that you have a perfect credit record, or if you are someone who has had some financial problems in the past, you should regularly check the credit files kept on you by the three main credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Each of these entities is required by law to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once a year.
There are many companies which advertise on television, radio and the internet which claim that they will provide your credit reports “for free.” However, I recommend that you avoid those services. What these entities really want is for you to sign up for their premium credit monitoring services, and they are using the “free credit report” as a teaser to get you interested in their services.
The best way to access your credit report is the old-fashioned way: through the regular mail. While it is takes more time to receive it, you typically receive a more complete copy of your report when you order it via regular mail, and you don’t have to agree to any terms or conditions in order to access the report. This can be important later on, as the on-line terms and conditions oftentimes include an agreement to submit any claims or causes of action against the Credit Reporting Agencies to arbitration. Click here to access the form you need to use in order to request your credit report by mail.
If you are more comfortable with the idea of accessing your report on-line, you should go to www.annualcreditreport.com to obtain a copy your report. It is an interactive website, and you will actually get your report for free at that website with no solicitation for other services.
Once you have your report, you should review it and highlight all of the inaccurate information. The process of getting it corrected is complicated, as it is dictated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Your disputes should be sent in writing via certified mail with return receipt requested and not made via either the telephone or the internet. The disputes should provide as much detail as possible and any documents which support your claim should be included with the written dispute. Frankly, given the difficulties associated with making the dispute and following up as necessary, you should confer with an experienced consumer advocate in order to determine your best strategy once you have discovered that your credit report contains false or inaccurate information.
Bob Healey is a licensed attorney and principal with Healey Law, LLC, a full-service St. Louis law firm, specializing in handling cases for accident and injury victims, injured workers, and consumers who have been abused or mistreated by debt collectors, banks, mortgage companies and credit reporting agencies. With 4 convenient locations in Chesterfield, Downtown St. Louis, North County (Bridgeton near DePaul Hospital) and South County (on Tesson Ferry across from St. Anthony’s Hospital) the attorneys at Healey Law, LLC have over 25 years of experience representing clients in the State and Federal Courts in both Missouri and Illinois. For more information visit: http://www.healeylawllc.com