Credit Report FAQs
Blankingship & Christiano, P.C., located in Reston, Virginia, is a top-rated and highly respected consumer protection law firm. We believe that your chances of assuring your credit status is accurate is a function of knowing what to do, whom to contact, and what to do if you do not receive a satisfactory outcome.
Protecting consumers from financial harm
Contact a Blankingship & Christiano, P.C. attorney today at (571) 313-0412 or online to discuss your consumer protection legal concerns.
How Do I Start A FCRA Credit Report Dispute?
The first thing to do is obtain an updated copy of your credit report. Errors will be on the report, so be sure to read it carefully. From there, write a letter to each credit reporting error describing the error and providing documentation. If this fails, you can contact Blankingship & Christiano P.C., and we can help.
What do I have to do when I have an inaccuracy on my credit report?
The first step to disputing an inaccuracy on your credit report is to send a dispute letter to the credit reporting agencies. The letter should identify who you are, describe the problem, identify all facts as to why the credit report is inaccurate, and include a copy of all supporting documents. If you have a police report you should definitely include that. We recommend that you send the items via certified mail with return receipt requested and regular mail. It is not unusual for credit reporting companies to say that they did not receive the dispute letter. You must dispute the claim directly through the credit reporting agencies under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and not the company that is reporting the debt. However, it is also advisable to send a copy to the company furnishing the information as well.
Why Should I Write My Own Letters?
While credit repair specialists might seem convenient, they are not always the best option. In fact, they are usually marketed towards people with terrible credit. Additionally, they generally send form letters, which are not as effective as individually-written ones. It’s worth the time to address the problem yourself.
Should I dispute the incorrect items on-line through the credit reporting agencies’ website?
No. You can dispute online, but we believe that the best practice is to send a letter, certified mail return with receipt requested, so you know that your information has been delivered. If you do dispute items online, please make sure to print copies of what you send and receive.
What happens after I dispute an account on my credit report?
The credit reporting agencies send notice to the company furnishing the information that you dispute the credit reporting. The furnisher has a duty to conduct a reasonable investigation of the dispute and report back to the credit reporting agencies the result of the investigation in a time period prescribed by statute. The credit reporting agencies will send you information related to the results of the investigation, usually via the mail. It is essential that the consumer keep copies of everything you send to and receive from the credit reporting agencies.
What are mixed or merged credit files?
Mixed or merged credit files occur when credit files or data from some other person appear on your credit report. These errors can occur in any number of ways including when there is a similarity of name, Social Security number, or address among different consumers. These errors can cause incorrect credit accounts, collection accounts, bankruptcies, or other derogatory information to appear on your credit file. Often, the consumer will send multiple letters disputing the accuracy of this information, but the incorrect item will remain on the credit file.
What is the difference between credit reports vs credit scores
You have probably heard the terms “credit report” and “credit score” used as if they were synonymous. However, a credit report is not the same as a credit score. As this video explains, a credit report is simply a history of your credit, including mortgages, loans, credit card debts, and other important information about your personal financial transactions. A credit score, meanwhile, is a number based on your credit report that is used to tell lenders whether you can be trusted to repay your loans. You should check your credit report regularly for errors; fortunately, everybody is entitled to a free copy of their credit report on an annual basis. Credit scores are offered by different credit agencies, so your score may differ depending on the formula used by the entity creating the credit score. If you find a mistake in your credit report, a credit report lawyer can help.
When should I contact a consumer law specialist?
We would be happy to speak with you at any point in the process; however, you must start the dispute process before any legal action can be taken. We also advocate multiple dispute letters if the credit reporting agencies refuse to take action the first time.
What types of damages may be recoverable?
Inaccurate credit report cases cause consumers significant financial and emotional harm. We seek recovery for increased interest rates, loss of access to credit, time spent disputing the inaccuracy, and emotional distress from the inaccuracies. Emotional distress can manifest itself in many ways including sleeplessness, nausea, headaches, hair loss, and affected relationships with loved ones. If you are suffering through any of these symptoms as a result of credit report inaccuracies, please know that you are not alone and that the situation is not hopeless.
What Should I Do If There Is an Error on My Report?
The first step is to file a dispute letter with the credit reporting agencies. In the letter, include your personal information, details of the error, and supporting facts to show that the information is incorrect. Include any supporting documents, such as payment receipts or police reports, with your letters. Avoid reporting errors via the agencies’ online systems. If you need to pursue the case further, it is helpful to have receipts for certified letters.
What Happens If the Error Is Not Corrected?
If errors on your report are not fixed, your lawyer can take legal action. During a credit report dispute, in addition to demanding that inaccurate information be removed from your report, your lawyer can also request damages for any financial hardship caused by the errors as well as the stress associated with trying to repair your report.
Can I Sue the Creditor Or Furnisher If My Credit Report is Wrong?
Don’t sue first. Instead, ensure that all other avenues are exhausted before taking that action. Once you have written letters and received denials, you can proceed with a lawsuit if you wish.
Should I expect immediate results?
No. Prior cases indicate that both the credit reporting agencies and the companies furnishing the erroneous information make little or no effort to investigate such complaints. You must be patient and allow the process to proceed. The good news is that if they refuse to take the appropriate action and you need to file suit to clear your good name, the damage award can be significant.