Learning all of the intricacies and nuances of credit reporting seems like an incredibly daunting task at first, particularly when you’re one of the millions of Americans with errors on your credit report. Those errors can have incredibly serious effects on your financial future. Experian is one of the three major credit reporting bureaus tasked with maintaining accurate credit information for millions of US consumers.
Mistakes are known to happen, and when they do, knowing what your rights are is vital to resolving those mistakes or holding Experian accountable when that resolution fails.
We’re going to take a comprehensive look at what credit errors are, and how the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) can help protect you. Then we’ll go over the step-by-step process for how you can sue Experian for inaccuracies on your credit report, and how the experienced attorneys at Fair Credit may be able to help.
You may be entitled to take legal action, and the trusted legal team at Fair Credit can help you, once the other avenues for resolution have been attempted.
Credit reporting errors can have unbelievably serious consequences for your financial well-being. They can make your credit report a fiction, inflate your debt, and lower your credit score. This can lead to more limited bank account options, poor lending terms, lending product denials, and even losing out on employment and housing opportunities.
Some of the most common credit reporting errors you’re likely to see on your credit report include:
This category covers errors in your personal information, including name, address, date of birth, Social Security Number, and more. Inaccuracies like these often arise from clerical errors, getting credit files mixed up, or errors related to identity theft.
In some cases, a specific account or debt may appear more than once on your credit report, making it look like you have inflated debt or multiple delinquencies. This error usually occurs because of reporting discrepancies between the credit reporting agency and the financial institutions that provide them with the information. It can also happen when one debt is sold to a debt collector but is still reported by the previous creditor.
Sometimes, your credit report can contain old or outdated information. Most credit items can only be listed on your credit report for 7 years, after which they must be removed. But this category can also include balances that have been paid, closed accounts still listed as open, or incorrect credit limits.
Payment history is a critical aspect of your credit score, and it may occasionally feature wrong information, such as wrongly reported late payments or payments made on time that were recorded as missing. Errors like these can have devastating effects on your credit score since payment history is roughly 35% of most FICO calculations.
In cases where the consumer has been a victim of identity theft, there may be new accounts opened and unauthorized transactions conducted with their personal information. These illegal activities will usually show up on their credit report and will often be intensely harmful to their credit score.
There are more, but these are the most common. The prevalence of these credit reporting errors is why it’s important to review your credit report regularly and address any errors as soon as possible after discovery.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law enacted back in 1970, is the primary law for governing the collection, use, and distribution of consumer credit information. It was created to guarantee the accuracy, privacy, and general fairness of credit reporting, and to help protect consumers from third parties misusing their personal information.
Credit reporting agencies like Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, as well as all parties who furnish them with information, are all subject to the guidelines and laws outlined in the FCRA.
The FCRA provides consumers with several rights, including:
Consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report from each of the three bureaus, once every 12 months. These can be requested from the official site, AnnualCreditReport.com.
If a consumer discovers errors on their credit report, they have the right to dispute the inaccuracies they find. The disputes that are filed must be investigated within 30 days, and the errors uncovered must be corrected.
The FCRA also guarantees that consumers be informed if the information on their credit report has been used against them, such as denial of credit, lending, employment, or housing. The notification given to the consumer must have the contact information of the credit bureau that provided the information and an explanation of the consumer’s right to obtain a free copy of the report used in the decision.
If a credit bureau or an entity that furnishes them with information, violates the FCRA, consumers do have the right to sue them in either state or federal court. Successful lawsuits may result in the awarding of damages like compensation for losses, emotional distress, attorney’s fees, and even court costs.
Understanding these rights and protections is one of the cornerstones to protecting your credit and financial future, as a consumer.
Before you jump into legal action against Experian, there are some things you’ll need to do first. Follow these steps to make sure you’ve gone through the process of ensuring your lawsuit is valid.
The first thing you’ll need to do is obtain a copy of your current credit report from each of the 3 major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Every consumer can get one report from each bureau for free once every 12 months. This report can come from the AnnualCreditReport.com site, or you can use one of the popular credit health apps like CreditKarma to browse a current copy.
Once you have your credit reports, you’ll need to examine them in great detail. You are looking for errors of any type, anywhere in the reports. This can be anything from logging an on-time payment as late, to a wrong account number or fraudulent account. You’ll need to supply any supporting documentation that may be needed to prove your assertion of inaccuracy.
Experian is required to investigate the dispute within 30 days, and must also notify you of the results.
Sometimes, while rare, Experian may fail to correct the demonstrably inaccurate information of your dispute. At this point, you can request that a “statement of dispute” be added to your credit report. This statement will be visible to anyone who views your report and will explain your side of the disputed story.
Contact Experian’s customer support to discuss your situation and seek assistance, just be sure to keep correspondence and interactions with Experian. They may become evidence in a lawsuit.
Once you’ve exhausted all other options for disputes and complaints with Experian, and you’re still seeing inaccurate information on your credit report, it’s time to speak to an attorney. Find an attorney experienced with the FCRA, they’ll be able to help you build a strong case, while also advising you on how to get through the process in general.
Your attorney will help you file your lawsuit. The lawsuit will typically be filed in state or federal court and will seek to recover compensation for the damages suffered. Each side will bring evidence to support their side, the evidence will be shared during the discovery stage, and in some cases, there may still be an opportunity to settle the case before the trial begins.
You might be eager to call a lawyer, but before you do, make sure that your needs align with the goal of a lawsuit. You should only consider legal action if:
It’s also important to remember that even if you do file a lawsuit, it can be a lengthy process, so make sure you haven’t overlooked a potentially easier or quicker way to get a resolution.
If you’ve tried everything else to get inaccuracies on your credit report cleared up, and still haven’t been successful, Fair Credit may be the ideal resource to find a solution. Our experienced team of legal experts is intimately familiar with the credit-reporting laws and can help you in pursuing legal action against a credit bureau like Experian, which has kept inaccuracies on file even after disputes.
Don’t let errors on your credit report hold you back, if you’ve gone through disputes and other options, reach out to Fair Credit and speak to a member of our legal team in private.