Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some initial questions many clients have when they first contact The Consumer Law Group, P.C.. The questions below can address many initial concerns you may have. If you don't find the answers here, you may contact us for answers to more complex questions or questions specific to your case.
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What can I do if the information on my credit report is inaccurate or incomplete?
Notify the Consumer Reporting Agency. Be as specific as possible. They are required to reinvestigate the items in question. You should also contact directly the creditor or other person who gave the incorrect information to make sure their records are in order. If the new investigation reveals an error, a corrected version should be sent, on your request, to anyone who received your report in the past six months. (Job applicants can have corrected reports sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years.) If you dispute the accuracy of the information in your file and the Consumer Reporting Agency deletes it, the agency cannot put the disputed information back into your file without notifying you in writing. If you contact a consumer reporting agency to dispute the accuracy or completeness of information in your file, the reporting agency may forward your dispute to the creditor or other person who furnished the information to the agency. But you also should still contact that source of information directly. Many creditors have a special address for this purpose, and have a duty to avoid reporting inaccurate information. Also, if you tell anyone that you dispute the accuracy of information, then that person must note that the information is disputed whenever it is provided to a consumer reporting agency.
If these inaccuracies do not get removed, contact us. We will discuss with you (at no charge) exactly what you need to do as well as give you an idea if you have a possible legal case under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) against the credit reporting agencies (CRA) or the furnisher of the inaccurate information to the CRA. Under the FCRA you are entitled to any damages you have suffered, emotional distress, statutory and punitive damages for willful violations of the law, and legal fees.
What can I do if the Consumer Reporting Agency won't modify the credit report?
The new investigation may not resolve your dispute with the Consumer Reporting Agency. If this happens, have the Consumer Reporting Agency include your version of the disputed information in your file and in future reports. You may submit a written statement of any length to be included in your file, although if the Consumer Reporting Agency assists in writing a clear summary of the dispute, the statement may be limited to 100 words. At your request, the Consumer Reporting Agency will also show your version or a summary of your version to anyone who recently received a copy of the old report. There is no charge for this service if it's requested within 30 days after you receive notice of your application denial. After that, there may be a reasonable charge.
How long can Consumer Reporting Agencies report unfavorable information on my credit report?
Generally, seven years. Adverse information cannot be reported after that, with certain exceptions:
- Bankruptcy information can be reported for ten years
- Information reported because of an application for a job with a salary of more than $75,000.00 has no time limit
- Information reported because of an application for more than $150,000.00 worth of credit or life insurance has no time limit
- Information concerning a lawsuit or judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.
If you believe that inaccurate or incomplete credit information is being used against you, you have rights. Learn more about the Fair Credit Reporting Act and how we can help you here.
What if I think a Consumer Reporting Agency has violated my rights under the law?
You may wish to seek the advice of an attorney. In some cases, but not always, a Consumer Reporting Agency which has violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act must pay your attorney's fees. Although the Federal Trade Commission cannot act as your lawyer in private disputes, information about your experiences and concerns is vital to the enforcement of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Please send questions or complaints to the FTC, Washington, D.C. 20580.
How do I order a copy of my credit report?
To order copies of your credit reports, write to each of the following Consumer Reporting Agencies:
Post Office Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
TRANS UNION CORPORATION
Post Office Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
EQUIFAX CREDIT INFORMATION SERVICES
Post Office Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
What can a consumer do if there is an error on his credit report?
As a safety precaution, a consumer should randomly obtain a copy of his credit report to insure it is accurate, about once every 6 months or at least once a year. When a consumer finds an error on his report, he needs to send a certified letter formally disputing the error with each of the three major credit bureaus, listed on this site, with a copy of the current report attached with the error highlighted. The credit reporting agencies must comply within 30 days either with notice of removal of the error, or with an explanation of the entry. If the consumer does not receive correspondence from the agencies within this 30 day period, the agencies may be in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the consumer should contact The Consumer Law Group immediately.
What should a consumer do if his identity has been stolen and used to obtain credit?
The consumer should first be aware that identity theft is a crime that must be reported to the police authorities. A stumbling block is that, often, this crime is perpetrated by a family member, and the victim does not want to get his family member in trouble; in which case, there is not much we can do. But once the victim does press charges and the state is successful in prosecuting the criminal, the consumer then must formally dispute the items on his credit report. The consumer should obtain a current report from all three credit agencies and highlight the disputed items. The credit agencies are required to respond within 30 days. The agencies must notify you of removal of the item(s) or notify you of the validity of the item(s). If not, then the agency may be in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the consumer should contact The Consumer Law Group immediately.
What are some ways to avoid Credit Fraud Identity Theft?
1. The next time you order checks, have your initials (instead of your first name) and last name put on the checks. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks. 2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put “PHOTO ID REQUIRED.” 3. When your are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, do not put the complete account number on the “For” line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won’t have access to your credit card number. 4. Put your work phone number on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a Post Office Box, use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a Post Office Box, use your work address. Never have your Social Security number printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary, but if you have it printed, anyone can get it. 5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Copy both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. You should also carry a photocopy of your passport with you when you travel either here or abroad. 6. If your credit cards are stolen, file a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where they were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one). 7. If your credit cards are stolen, call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit. The numbers to the three credit reporting organizations are: A. Equifax: 1-888-766-0008 B. Experian: 1-888-397-3742 C. Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289 The number to the Social Security Administration fraud line is 1-800-269-0271.
How do I get my annual free credit report?
Visit www.annualcreditreport.com. You can also call 1-877-322-8228, or write: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105821, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.