As a consumer, it’s getting more important every day for you to understand the various laws and regulations that are in place to protect your credit and financial reputation. One of these laws, perhaps one of the most critical, is “15 U.S.C. 1681n”.
While this may sound complicated, you likely already know the piece of legislation this law is attached to, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or the FCRA for short. The FCRA is designed to help safeguard you from inaccurate credit reporting on your financial standing or creditworthiness.
We’re going to dig into the details of 15 U.S.C. 1681n, what it means for you as an individual consumer, and how you can use it to keep your credit report accurate.
If you follow the correct steps and your credit report isn’t kept accurate after filing disputes, there are even legal measures you can take to potentially recover compensation for damages you suffer from inaccurate credit reporting, so we’ll look at one of the leading resources to address that as well.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law enacted in 1970 to help promote, and more importantly enforce, the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information that was contained in the files of the various credit reporting services. In general, the FCRA serves to regulate the collection, as well as the use and dissemination of consumer credit information.
15 U.S.C. 1681n is a section of the FCRA that specifically focuses on the willful noncompliance of anyone who is subject to the FCRA. This can include, but isn’t limited to, the credit bureaus, data providers, and anyone who uses consumer credit reports.
15 U.S.C. 1681n addresses noncompliance, but specifically willful noncompliance, meaning any action or inaction taken by one party, with the knowledge that it violates the FCRA or in reckless disregard for the FCRA and its associated requirements. Willful noncompliance often leads to serious consequences for the offending party, frequently including liability for the actual damages sustained, as well as punitive damages and attorney’s fees.
Some examples of willful noncompliance under 15 U.S.C. 1681n include:
Data providers, or data furnishers, are entities such as banks, lenders, and credit card companies, and can be held liable for willful noncompliance if they knowingly publish false or inaccurate information to any of the 3 credit bureaus, or fail to conduct sufficient investigations when disputes arise.
Credit reporting agencies are sometimes found to be willfully noncompliant if they fail to follow reasonably, established procedures that help ensure the accuracy of the information on the consumer’s report, or if they fail to promptly investigate disputes.
Anyone that uses a consumer credit report, such as employers, landlords, or lenders who use a consumer’s credit report can be found to be willfully noncompliant if they fail to provide the required notices or get the needed permission to access a consumer’s credit report.
As a consumer covered by the FCRA, you are guaranteed the right to dispute any inaccurate information on your consumer credit report. Whenever you encounter these inaccuracies, it’s critical to leverage the protections offered by 15 U.S.C. 1681n and the FCRA in general. Here’s what you need to do to start flexing your FCRA muscle:
The first step to ensuring that your credit report stays accurate and error-free is regularly reviewing your report from each of the 3 major agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Another benefit of the FCRA is that it guarantees every consumer can get a copy of their credit reports from each agency for free every 12 months, but there are other methods as well.
Head to the official free credit report site, or use one of the popular credit monitoring apps to get real-time data.
Once you find the errors, you’ll need to file official disputes. You can generally do this online, by mail, or by phone, so choose whatever is most convenient. You’ll generally need some form of documentation or evidence like identity documents or payment receipts.
Once your disputes are filed, the parties you filed them with will have 30 days to respond or take action. Follow up after 30 days if you haven’t seen any corrections or updates on your credit report.
Throughout the entire dispute process, keep an accurate and highly detailed record of your correspondence, no matter what channel you communicated through. This will be important if legal action is needed.
If the credit agency, data furnisher, or credit report user willfully fails to comply with the FCRA, and it creates damages, you may have the right to seek compensation for those damages with legal action.
Make sure you stay informed on all changes or updates to the FCRA, and other consumer protection laws, so you always know your rights.
If you’ve exhausted all other avenues to get the errors and inaccuracies on your credit report corrected or removed, and you believe that the other party may be willfully failing to comply with the FCRA, you might benefit from legal action.
Fair Credit can help you navigate the complex process of holding the responsible party accountable under 15 U.S.C. 1681n, and potentially even recover compensation for damages that you may have suffered as a result.
The experienced legal team at Fair Credit work closely with consumers to evaluate the case, gather evidence, and firmly advocate for your rights. Accurate credit reporting is incredibly important, we understand that and are dedicated to helping our clients assert their rights under the FCRA. If you believe that the inaccuracies on your credit report are the result of a willful FCRA violation, reach out to Fair Credit today to evaluate your case.