Credit reporting errors are common. It’s estimated that about 20 percent of the credit reports managed by the three major American bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — contain a “potentially material error.” This does not include incorrect identification information such as your name, address and phone number.
Correcting credit errors is vital for when you want to seek credit for a home, car or some other major purchase. But how do you know when to take on the credit bureau yourself, and when to call in a consumer law attorney with significant credit report dispute experience?
- Remedies for False Credit Reporting
- There are remedies available that do not necessarily require a credit reporting lawyer. The Fair Credit Reporting act requires credit bureaus to accept and investigate consumer disputes about errors on a credit report. This same statute governs how agencies must handle these disputes.
- The agency has 30 days to investigate your complaint and respond to you with either a remedy or a denial. You may choose to take this step on your own, but be sure to follow our suggestions for writing a proper denial letter and document every action you take.
- If the credit bureau denies your request and you still believe that the information in question is incorrect, this may be the time to consult with a credit dispute lawyer. A lawyer can advise on whether the credit bureau or creditor might be engaged in willful or negligent violation of the FCRA. An experienced lawyer can also lean on prior cases to help you understand how long the process could take and what sort of benefit you might receive — such as how much your credit score could potentially improve — from successfully contesting the credit agency’s denial of your dispute letter.
Credit Services That You May Need
It’s first important to understand the different services available and the do-it-yourself options for correcting credit reporting errors. The three main avenues are credit counseling services, credit repair companies and credit dispute lawyers.
- Credit counseling services are usually non-profit organizations that review your total financial situation — often for free — and suggest a plan for you to improve that situation. A credit counseling session may or may not include a review of your credit reports. Actions you take to repair credit reporting errors or improve your score are left entirely to you.
- Credit repair companies charge a fee, typically linked to a promise of removing a certain amount of negative items from your credit report. These companies are governed by the Credit Repair Organizations Act, which requires that the company provide a written contract of the services it will provide, give you the opportunity to cancel within three days of signing the contract and require no fees until the contract is fulfilled. They do not necessarily provide legal representation. Many of these companies use form letters with little personal information that is needed to get false items removed from your report. If too many form letters are sent on the consumer’s behalf, the credit bureaus many reject future disputes as frivolous, without ever reviewing the dispute. Be very wary of these organizations. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has received numerous scam and fraud complaints relating to credit repair companies.
- Credit reporting lawyers specialize in directly helping you repair credit reporting errors. This can include assisting you in everything from drafting a proper credit dispute letter to filing a lawsuit against either credit bureaus or creditors under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Services of a credit dispute lawyer are not connected to a promise of removing items from your report. Instead, you are enlisting legal representation for your case. Experienced credit reporting case can help during every aspect of your dispute, including litigation if the credit bureaus refuse to remove the false items.
Contact a Trusted Consumer Law Attorney Today
If you have already identified and disputed false items on your credit report or just want to have an attorney help you review your report for errors, it is time to reach out to an experied credit reporting lawyer. Contact Lyngklip & Associates, Southfield’s credit dispute lawyers, to request a free consultation regarding your credit dispute case. Fill out our online form or call us at (248) 965-5751.