Increasingly, a credit report is important for almost everything you do in life. Job interviews. Mortgages. Refinance. Credit Cards. Insurance. Renting an apartment. Credit reports are used for everything. As such, it is critical that your credit report is accurate. To make sure it is accurate, you must start my regularly checking your credit report with one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.

Authorize LeavenLaw to Pull Your Credit Report

The Fair Credit Reporting attorneys at LeavenLaw recommend that you use for checking your credit report for accuracy and any other suspicious or improper activity. The Federal Government, via the Fair Credit Reporting Act, requires each of the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- to provide consumers a free copy of their credit report once per year per bureau. Therefore, every consumer gets three (3) free copies of a credit report each year. To best use your allotment, the consumer attorneys at LeavenLaw recommend that you pull one report every three or four months, once from each bureau, to spread throughout the year your free credit reports. After you pull a report, there are six major areas that should be checked. They are:

Name(s), SSN and Address(es)
Public Records (i.e., judgments, bankruptcies, etc.)
Tradelines or Accounts (i.e., completeness)
Balance(s) Due
Past Due Payments or Past Due Balances
Access or "pulls" of your credit report

Maximum Possible Accuracy

As should be expected, if a company is gathering the most private information about you and sharing it with others, it is imperative that the companies gathering and publishing such information -- the credit reporting bureaus, most notably Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- must take great care to insure that the information is gathered and published with "maximum possible accuracy." Section 1681e(b) of the FCRA.

Duties Regarding Information Reported

In addition to the obligations of the credit bureaus, the furnisher of information to the bureaus, most notably creditors and debt collectors, also have duties to insure that the information they are initially reporting, as well as the processes and procedures that they follow in the fact of disputes to the accuracy of such information, are strictly followed to insure accuracy of the information being reported. Section 1681s-2(a) of the FCRA. In material part, the furnishers of information:

May not knowingly report false information
Must report disputes
Must update and correct information
Report when accounts are closed
Provide consumer notice of negatively reported information

For a list of all of the duties furnishers of information have regarding the publishing of information regarding a consumer’s credit worthiness, please visit this website.

Disputes of Erroneous Information

Once you have pulled your credit reports and reviewed them for errors, your next step is to dispute the errors, in writing, to the credit bureaus (e.g., Equifax, Experian, and/or TransUnion) that are reporting the false information. Importantly, you do not have any right to file a lawsuit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act against a creditor or debt collector inaccurately reporting information against you unless and until you dispute the accuracy of the information reported through the credit reporting agency. When disputing such inaccurate information, do not use the credit bureaus on-line portal for submitting your disputes. Instead, draft and send a letter to the credit reporting agency, attaching copies of any documents that support your position as to why it is being reported inaccurately. Send such letter certified mail, return receipt requested. For addresses of the credit reporting agencies and where to send your letter, please visit this page of LeavenLaw’s credit reporting website. The credit reporting agency must then relay your dispute to the furnisher, acknowledge your dispute to you in writing, and ultimately report to you, the consumer, the results of the furnisher’s and the bureau’s investigations.

If your credit reports are not updated as a result of your first dispute, do not be discouraged. In LeavenLaw’s experience helping consumers with credit reporting errors over the years, it may take several attempts to completely and accurately clean up one’s report. If you need assistance or are overwhelmed with this process, please contact a fair credit reporting lawyer at LeavenLaw to set up a free consultation to go over your credit report, discuss possible errors, and come up with a game plan to fix the errors. How much does this cost? Nothing to you out of pocket.

Lawsuit, Damages & Corrected Report

If you, either alone or with one of LeavenLaw’s credit reporting attorney’s assistance, have disputed errors on your credit report several times and the erroneous information has not been updated, your next step may be the filing of a lawsuit. This decision -- whether or not to file a lawsuit -- will depend on one of two things. One, did the furnisher or credit reporting agency act willfully in reporting or continuing to report the erroneous credit information? Two, did you incur any actual damage after your dispute of the erroneous credit information. If either of the two situations exist, then you, with LeavenLaw’s credit error attorney counsel, may decide to file a lawsuit for damages under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

To best determine your rights and the best next step, gather your credit report and contact LeavenLaw to set up a free consultation.