How your credit report can help or hurt you

The path to resolving credit disputes is not always easy. Two-thirds of our survey respondents who found errors attempted to correct them. More than half of them told us that they encountered difficulties, including being ignored, rejected or subjected to outright lies.

Leonard Bennett, a consumer law attorney at Newport News, Va., Says he’s not surprised. “Often, agencies just have their computers verify that previously reported information is still being reported,” he says. “No human is involved.”

Stuart K. Pratt, president and CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association, a professional group, says member companies have systems in place to ensure that disputes entered into their databases are properly described and that such disputes arrive quickly. to lenders, where the discrepancies may have their origin.

“Our systems also require lenders to review consumer-submitted credit report disputes” so that they receive appropriate attention, maintains Pratt.

Last May, Mississippi became the first state to sue a credit bureau for alleged violations of federal and state law. Among the charges – alleged by State Attorney General Jim Hood – are that Experian mixed up the identities of consumers, reported as overdue or overdue accounts that were paid on time or paid in full , did not update its files of privileges or judgments that were deleted or resolved, and reported people alive as dead.

Experian’s response is that the lawsuit is not supported by facts and evidence, and that it will defend itself vigorously.

Consumers also act on their own. In July 2013, Julie Miller, a 58-year-old nurse from Marion County, Ore., Won a record-breaking verdict of $ 18.4 million in punitive damages against Equifax. In his lawsuit, Miller claimed the company ignored his calls to fix a mixed file problem that corrupted his credit report with numerous collection accounts owned by someone else. (Punitive and compensatory damages last January were reduced to $ 1.8 million.)

“She didn’t want to sue anyone,” said Michael Baxter, one of the attorneys who represented Miller. “She just wanted her credit clean.”

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