FCRA Attorney

Last Updated:
April 16, 2023

Your consumer rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act are incredibly important. But credit bureaus, credit furnishers, and background check companies may inadvertently or intentionally violate those rights, leading to serious consequences like fewer job offers and missed loan opportunities.

When your FCRA rights are violated, you need to have knowledgeable legal representatives at your side. The right FCRA attorneys can provide a wide range of assistance and help you receive a successful outcome from any legal action, including an FCRA dispute or lawsuit. Read on to learn more about what an FCRA attorney is, how they can help, and why you should hire one.

What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a set of federal rules and regulations that dictate how credit bureaus, consumer reporting agencies, and similar organizations can use consumer personal, background, and credit information. It also enshrines various consumer rights for American citizens. For example:

  • American citizens have the right to one free credit report each year from any credit bureau
  • American citizens have the right to ensure their personal and background information is accurate and up-to-date
  • American citizens have the right to dispute inaccurate, erroneous, or out-of-date credit and background information

Furthermore, the FCRA outlines how companies must respond to credit or debt disputes. For instance, say that you file a dispute with a credit bureau because of inaccurate credit report information. Once you file your dispute, the credit bureau has 30 days to investigate your dispute details. If it doesn’t do this, it’s in direct violation of your FCRA rights.

The FCRA is an important piece of legislation because it prevents consumers from being taken advantage of by lenders, credit bureaus, and credit furnishers such as utility companies.

Common FCRA Violations

Unfortunately, many organizations that are beholden to the rules of the FCRA commit violations intentionally or accidentally. Some of the most common violations of FCRA rights include:

  • Furnishing agencies or organizations with outdated, inaccurate information, such as criminal records that don’t apply to the person/subject
  • Failing to report debts discharged in bankruptcy
  • Furnishing or reporting inaccurate information, like reporting a debt as a charge-off when it was actually paid off in full
  • Providing credit information despite there being a case of purported identity theft
  • Mixing up files, such as providing inaccurate credit information about one person by confusing their Social Security number with that of another individual
  • Releasing credit reports to non-authorized individuals or organizations. In a nutshell, authorized persons are those who have valid needs for credit or background info, like employers, landlords, creditors, etc. If a credit bureau or reporting agency releases your info to someone who isn’t authorized, they are violating your FCRA privacy rights 
  • Making improper requests for credit reports, like a landlord asking for your credit information every month
  • Notice violations, such as a lender not notifying you that it used your credit score in its decision to deny you a loan (this must be done in a pre-adverse or adverse action letter)

These violations can occur by pure accident, such as human error, a computer glitch, or a miscommunication. But they can also occur because an agent or worker is too lazy to do their job properly. In any case, it’s important to know what steps to take if you believe your FCRA rights have been violated.

Not Following Debt/Credit Dispute Procedures

Some of the most egregious FCRA rights violations occur when credit bureaus and reporting agencies don’t follow debt or credit dispute procedures. As noted above, the FCRA states that reporting agencies/businesses must follow strict procedures and behavior sequences when they receive disputes.

If, for example, a background check agency does not respond to a dispute request or correct erroneous information after you bring it to its attention, it’s in violation of your rights under the FCRA. Other debt or credit dispute procedure rights violations include:

  • Not conducting reasonable investigations of disputes
  • Not correcting out-of-date or incomplete information
  • Not notifying relevant parties that a debt, credit report, or background check report is being disputed

What Are FCRA Attorneys?

FCRA attorneys are specialized legal professionals who know the ins and outs of both the FCRA and state consumer rights laws. Like other attorneys, they have chosen to specialize in a specific practice area, making them the best professionals to contact if you ever encounter an FCRA dispute, rights violation, or lawsuit situation.

For example, say that you file a credit dispute letter with a credit bureau about inaccurate debt information. The credit bureau does not respond, nor does it take any steps to correct the inaccurate information. You decide you want to sue the credit bureau since that inaction cost you a fantastic mortgage loan offer that you would otherwise have qualified for.

To accomplish your goal and recover compensation, you decide to contact FCRA attorneys. The right attorneys will maximize your chances of recovering damages, plus make it more likely that you’ll see a satisfactory outcome to the situation.

How Can FCRA Attorneys Help?

FCRA attorneys can provide a lot of different types of assistance to your case through every step of the process. For instance, FCRA attorneys can:

  • Review your credit check or background check report and examine it for errors

This is very helpful if you’ve already found one mistake, as the chances are high that the agency or bureau in question made more than one error (or that all three credit bureaus made the same errors)

  • Explore all of the legal options available to you

A skilled FCRA lawyer can explain your full set of options so you understand the best choice to make for yourself and your family. Sometimes, for instance, a lawsuit isn’t the right choice, but pursuing arbitration could help you get the resolution you need for a much lower cost

  • Collect evidence for any upcoming credit or background check disputes or lawsuits

The right evidence can convince a credit bureau or reporting agency to see your side of things or sway a court to your opinion

  • Negotiate with credit bureaus, credit furnishers, and any other organizations

For many Americans, speaking to the organizations that wronged them can be anxiety-inducing and frustrating. Your attorneys can handle all of these negotiations, providing you with peace of mind

  • Represent you in court if your case goes to a lawsuit

Furthermore, they can coach you and train you so you know what to say and how to carry yourself in a legal court environment

  • Provide you with advice to increase your credit score if your current situation has resulted in a credit score decrease

As consumer law experts, FCRA attorneys oftentimes know the best ways to increase one's credit score or to maximize your creditworthiness in the eyes of lenders

With all of these major benefits and types of assistance, there’s no reason not to contact FCRA attorneys whenever you are in the midst of a credit or consumer information dispute. The sooner you contact an attorney, the better; there’s no need to wait until you’ve already filed paperwork for a lawsuit to give a local law firm a call. 

Potential Damages from a Successful FCRA Violation Lawsuit

A successful FCRA violation lawsuit could yield several different types of damages and compensation.

  • Economic damages may be awarded for any tangible and monetary losses

As an example, if you’re denied employment opportunity because of a background check mistake, you could be awarded economic damages to compensate you for the assumed or projected money you would have made otherwise

  • Non-economic damages

These damages compensate you for the negative emotional side effects of the entire process. This can include emotional distress, anxiety, etc.

  • Statutory damages

The FCRA specifically states that claimants of FCRA rights violations can recover up to $1000 per violation for any willful actions on the part of the defendant. For instance, if a credit bureau willfully denies your credit dispute request three times, you could recover up to $3000 in total statutory damages

  • Punitive damages

These are intended to punish companies and deter others from committing the same violations later on. Punitive damages have the potential to be much higher than the other damages types 

However, keep in mind that your case may not qualify for all of these damage types. Speak to your attorneys to figure out the likely damages or compensation you may recover should your lawsuit be successful.

How to Choose an FCRA Attorney

Hiring an FCRA attorney is always a wise idea, but only if you choose a firm that works for you and provides you with the service you need. You should look for several major factors before settling on an FCRA law firm.

For starters, make sure the FCRA attorney you choose has an excellent reputation and good reviews from others in your area. The best FCRA law firms will have extensive experience and the positive reviews to back it up. Never settle for a law firm that doesn’t have good reviews or sterling testimonials from its previous clients.

Next, be sure to meet with an FCRA attorney before signing any dotted lines. During that meeting, you can get a sense of who your attorney is as a person and ask them questions like:

  • Who specifically will handle your case
  • Whether they’ve handled cases like yours before
  • What they think they’ll be able to help with based on your case specifics

Their answers to these questions can tell you more about whether they are worth your time.

Key Case Decisions Made Possible by FCRA Attorneys

FCRA attorneys have historically successfully contributed to many FCRA rights violation cases, leading to major improvements or successful case outcomes for their clients. Here are just a few examples:

Ramirez v. TransUnion LLC

The Ninth Circuit court sided with the plaintiffs in Ramirez v. TransUnion LLC in February 2020. In this case, TransUnion had illegally offered a product to many consumers using names that were designated by the Office of Assets Control (OFAC) of the Department of the Treasury as "posing a national security threat." The plaintiffs collectively received $8 million in statutory damages and $52 million in punitive damages because TransUnion did not comply with important disclosure requirements per the FCRA

Walker v. Fred Meyer, Inc

In Walker v. Fred Meyer, Inc., the Ninth Circuit court found that the plaintiff, who claimed that his employer had violated the FCRA since it did not disclose its background check process clearly and conspicuously in a designated document, was correct. It noted that Fred Meyer, Inc. had violated the FCRA by not providing a background check process document that consisted “solely of the disclosure”

Williams v. First Advantage LNS Screening Solutions

In Williams v. First Advantage LNS Screening Solutions, the Eleventh Circuit court reduced a previous $3.3 million punitive damages award to $1 million, yet also affirmed a compensatory damages award of $250,000 to the plaintiff. It did this after finding that Williams' lawsuit of First Advantage for FCRA violations (specifically, attributing criminal background information from another individual to Williams twice) was legitimate

Every case is different, but these examples demonstrate how valuable the right FCRA attorneys can be.

Contact Us for a Free Case Review

Ultimately, FCRA attorneys are the specialized legal professionals you need at your side whenever you file a credit or background check dispute. More importantly, if you ever plan to sue a credit bureau or background check agency, it’s a good idea to hire FCRA attorneys to assist throughout the process.

Our legal representatives are well-equipped and ready to help with your case as soon as you contact us. Even better, due to the fee-shifting provision in the FCRA, you pay us nothing for legal representation. 

Get in touch today for a free case evaluation and consultation.

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