Virginia & Washington DC Credit Report Dispute Lawyer
Vital Facts about Credit Reporting
Our credit reports and credit scores are the lifeblood of our financial lives. A credit report dispute or identity theft in Northern Virginia can destroy the integrity of our credit profiles, and ultimately impact the quality of our lives.
Whereas many of us are aware of our FICO (Fair Isaac) score, we may not realize that each of the three credit bureaus also assigns its own three-digit score to our credit profile. All credit scores range between 350 and 850, and the higher the number, the better your credit.
Without a good credit score, you have a harder time obtaining attractive or affordable credit terms for home mortgages, car loans, and personal loans as well as renting an apartment or obtaining a good job. To make certain your credit score stays healthy, you need to be extremely responsible with your credit and financial obligations, and vigilant of any credit report mistake on a regular basis. You can also hire one of our Northern VA credit lawyers to help you with credit score issues.
What is a Credit Report?
ID theft harms the credit scores of Washington DC-area residents. That’s where credit scores come in. Credit scores are how lenders, landlords, and others determine whether you are worthy of a loan or a trustworthy financial partner or tenant. Our team works to resolve the issues that destroy your credit score.
How Do I Get My Credit Score?
At Blankingship & Christiano P.C., we always advise our clients recovering from ID Theft to visit https://www.annualcreditreport.com. Other credit reports charge money and sometimes include fine print that limits your ability challenge results in court.
Why You Need A Credit Report Lawyer
While federal and state law enforcement officials in Washington, DC regularly investigate and prosecute identity theft, consumers must also guard their credit reports and take fast, aggressive action at the first signs of trouble. By the time you realize your identity is stolen, the thief typically enjoyed a shopping spree for luxury goods at your expense. Perhaps the thieves opened new credit accounts using your stolen personal information or even committed a crime while posing as you.
The problems tend to escalate because identity thieves are always a step ahead of you. Never pay any disputed amounts and take the following steps in fixing the problem:
- Obtain the free copy of your credit report that each credit bureau is required to provide you annually
- Notify creditors and your bank of the theft to close your accounts
- File a criminal complaint with the police or sheriff departments in your area
- Notify each of the three credit bureaus in writing about the disputed item in your report
- Obtain an Identity Theft Passport from the Virginia Office of the Attorney General
If these steps fail to fix the problem, you may need to contact a credit report attorney and file a lawsuit against the credit bureaus or creditors.
At Blankingship & Christiano, P.C., our Reston credit report attorneys have a successful track record taking on the credit bureaus and their powerful attorneys. We will not hesitate to sue any creditor or credit bureau to fight for your legal rights and restore your good credit.
We are knowledgeable about credit and consumer law as well as frequent changes to these laws and have experience dealing with credit disputes and handling complex litigation against credit reporting agencies and creditors.
What Can I Do About Fraud and Credit Inquiries?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that the credit bureaus and the reporting agencies correct false and inaccurate records. However, it takes some effort to convince them. Our team in Washington, DC resolves the ID theft-related disputes.
Fighting for Identity Theft Victims
Identity theft is considered by many to be the fastest-growing crime in the United States, with some calling it an epidemic. In 2008, identity theft complaints made up 26-percent of all fraud complaints nationwide. The cost of identity theft to U.S. businesses and consumers is estimated by many organizations to be in the tens of billions of dollars annually.
The Commonwealth of Virginia takes identity theft seriously, with several tough state laws supplementing the federal laws and stiff fines and penalties for offenders. The Virginia Office of the Attorney General says the state ranks 22nd in the nation in identity theft victims.
What Is a Credit Reporting Agency?
Credit bureaus are independent agencies – not affiliated with the government – that supply credit reports to creditors. Blankingship & Christiano P.C. understands how to use the FCRA to dispute false credit reports in your favor.
What are the Ways a Bad Credit Score Can Affect Me?
In the same way that an annual physical can detect health problems early when they can be cured, checking your credit report annually also ensures more than just getting a view of your financial health.
Without at least checking your credit report annually, it is easy to miss early signs of identity theft hidden between your monthly purchases. As long as the perpetrator benefits from your stolen information, he or she continues to make purchases, open new accounts, and run up crippling debts.
Find out just the many ways a bad credit score can impact you, the ramifications, and ways you can improve your credit score.
What is Considered a Bad Credit Score?
Credit scores range from 300 to 850 points and are based on your credit history. If you’re consistently maxing out your credit cards and neglecting to pay your bills or mortgage payments on time, that track record can stack up against you. Current debts, frequent applications for new credit, the types of credit you use and the length of time you’ve had credit are all additional factors in determining your credit score beyond payment history.
Lenders use your credit score to determine whether you are a reliable candidate to receive more credit, such as a car loan, mortgage or credit card. While each lender has their own determination for what constitutes a good credit score or a bad one, a general guideline is that 680 and above is good to excellent while less than 620 is low to bad. The lower the score, the worse your credit, with ranges from 300 to 499 constituting bad credit scores.
Habitual Credit Report Problems
At Blankingship & Christiano, P.C., our credit report lawyers in Leesburg know how difficult it can be to keep your credit rating accurate. We have years of experience helping Northern Virginians fix their credit reports.
The bottom line is the credit companies who can fix your problems have little or no desire to help you — in spite of their legal obligations. Only skilled credit lawyers in Northern Virginia can help ensure that your problems are corrected properly and in a timely manner. That’s why you need Blankingship & Christiano. Contact us today at (571) 313-0412!
- Furnishers are any creditor, insurer, bank, credit union, landlord, or other person who provides information regarding you to a credit reporting agency. Furnishers come in many different types and provide information regarding financial, employment, criminal, medical, and insurance history.
- Credit Reporting Agencies are generally defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) as an entity that “regularly engages in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties.” Consumer credit information can include financial history, employment history, check-writing history, insurance claims, and medical history. The largest three are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Blankingship & Christiano, P.C. has credit report attorneys in Fairfax, VA that know the intricacies of consumer protection laws and how to end the madness of habitual credit report and credit report problems such as false credit reports.
How Bad Credit Can Impact You
Low or bad credit scores, while seemingly just numbers, can actually impact many areas of your life and make daily living very difficult. From cell phone plans to interest rates to home loans, bad credit scores can hurt your chances of getting approved with creditors and can cost you additional money. Some of the main ways low or bad credit scores can impact you include:
- Difficulty obtaining a loan or credit card. If lenders and creditors think your credit history is a risk, they may not approve your applications for loans or credit cards. That can make purchasing a car, buying a home or simply getting an everyday credit card extremely difficult.
- High-interest rates. If creditors or lenders do approve your application, they often make you pay a higher interest rate than those with better credit scores because they view you as riskier.
- Higher insurance premiums. In addition to interest rates, you may see your insurance premiums go up with bad credit because insurance companies link lower credit scores to a higher number of claims filed.
- Difficulty landing an apartment, getting a cell phone contract or setting up utilities. Landlords, utility companies and cell phone companies all check your credit score. Landlords and cell phone companies can deny you, while utility companies may require a security deposit for utilities before setting up service.
- Getting a Job: for many employers, your resume and references are only the first steps in evaluating candidates. Today, companies are checking the credit scores of applicants as part of the hiring process. A low credit score may prevent you from working in certain industries, especially financial industries and any job that requires you to manage money.
Ways to Improve Bad Credit
If you have a bad credit score, however, all hope is not lost. Here are ways to improve your credit score over time:
- One of the most important steps to take is consistently making payments on time. Whether it’s credit card debt, a car loan or your mortgage, prioritize setting aside money to pay your bills on time every month.
- You should also stop using credit cards as much or at all, if possible. Using only a small percentage of credit that’s available to you instead of maxing out your credit cards reflects well on your credit score.
- If you have inaccurate debt that is hurting your credit score, you can begin the process to dispute your debt.
Fixing Your Credit Score in Virginia & Washington DC
If you checked your credit score with the reporting agencies (your legal right and a free service they must provide) and found an error or credit report problem, you know the challenges. Our credit report attorneys can address such issues as—
- Mixed/merged credit files: Information about one consumer is placed on the credit file of another consumer. These problems can flow from the actual bad credit of your identity thief appearing on your credit, or information from a relative or person with similar name or other identifying information appearing in your credit file.
- Credit reporting agencies’ stubbornness and refusal to fix problems: Often information that you provide to prove your innocence is disregarded, ignored, or not provided in complete detail to furnishers as part of the dispute process.
- Furnisher laziness in using resources to investigate disputes: In general, furnishers expend little money, training, or staff resources on programs designed to meaningfully investigate disputed accounts. The responses are almost always done electronically and furnisher investigations can take as little as 60 seconds.
The Fairfax credit lawyers of Blankingship & Christiano, P.C. will file suit against credit reporting agencies and furnishers to enforce the types of violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act so you can get on with your life. Our credit report attorneys will resolve any false credit reports or other credit report problems.
If you have noticed credit report errors and have already tried to resolve them, then you probably understand how frustrating it can be to deal with credit reporting agencies. One of the reasons why so many people turn to a credit report lawyer for help is that credit reporting agencies may disregard the correct information. The credit reporting agency may also fail to provide all the information necessary to furnishers to resolve the dispute. A credit report attorney near Leesburg can provide the solutions you need to fix your credit history and restore your financial health.
A credit report lawyer can explain your legal rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and recommend a course of action that is suitable to your particular situation. In some cases, the fact that individuals are being represented by an attorney provides sufficient leverage to fix habitual credit report errors. If necessary, a credit report lawyer can also file a complaint against the furnisher or credit reporting agency to prompt the enforcement of consumer rights.
The Law Really Is On Your Side and So Are We!
With the help from our credit report attorneys at Blankingship & Christiano P.C., there are federal, state, and local laws that protect you from harassment and deceptive lending practices in various consumer transactions. These laws include—
- Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): governs the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer information including consumer credit information
- Truth in Lending Act (TILA): requires clear disclosure of key terms in lending arrangements and disclosure of all costs
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA): establishes rules to prevent abusive debt collector practices
- Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA): makes it illegal for any creditor to discriminate against any application regarding a credit transaction on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age
- Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA): prohibits kickbacks between lenders and third-party agents that would disadvantage consumers
- Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA): protects consumers from fraudulent acts or practices committed by sellers or lessors in the course of specified business transactions
How to Handle a Northern VA Credit Report Problem
Many federal and state laws protect consumers from credit report dispute and identity theft including code established by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) —the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under the FCRA, in most instances, if you notify a credit bureau of inaccurate information, they are required to investigate any erroneous credit reporting within 30 days and remove errors from your credit report.
While the FCRA and other laws protect your rights, it is not easy to fix a credit report error. The three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian (formerly TRW) and TransUnion, sometimes drag their feet in fixing errors or fail to make such corrections altogether despite clear evidence supporting claims of credit fraud or errors.