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Oliva Law Feb. 3, 2022

With all the lockdowns, business interruptions, and layoffs during the pandemic, it wouldn’t be surprising that many individuals suddenly fell behind on their monthly obligations. As a result, their credit reports may have taken a hit—but not every entry on a credit report is accurate.

Federal law protects consumers and establishes the right to challenge entries on credit reports, but it is sometimes an arduous path to get errors removed or corrected. If you’re still struggling to fix errors on your credit report in or around McAllen, Texas, contact Oliva Law. We’re proud to help individuals recover from financial difficulties, including disputes over credit reports and other charges. If your credit reporting agency is still carrying erroneous information on your report, we can assist you.

Laws That Protect Consumer Credit

Federal legislators began extending consumers credit protections back in the 1960s with the enactment of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA), which was followed by the more sweeping Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in 1970.

FCRA bestows several rights on consumers. Among them are:

  • The right to know the information contained in your credit report, with free yearly copies available (additional copies by fee)

  • The right to know when a credit report is used against you, for instance, in denial of credit or employment

  • The right to dispute inaccurate or incomplete information contained in your report

  • The right to seek damages from anyone violating FCRA

Three other acts were later incorporated into FCRA: The Credit Card Act, the Dodd-Frank Act, and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act. These three acts placed new levels of accountability on credit providers and reporters.

Finding and Disputing Errors

Generally, you can receive a free copy of your credit report each year from Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. If you notice an error on your report, you have a right under FCRA to dispute it.

For the most part, you can dispute credit report entries that are inaccurate, incomplete, out of date, or that you believe to be unverifiable. You can also dispute:

  • Payments reported late that were actually on time

  • Inaccurate account status, for instance, an account reported to be past due that is actually current

  • Accounts that don’t belong to you

  • Inaccurate credit line/loan amount information

  • Inaccurate creditor

When you receive your free report, the reporting agency will usually include a dispute form with it. The form is meant to pigeonhole your dispute into a broad category and limit any details you may wish to provide. The best approach is to avoid the form or to provide detailed supplementary information. Be sure to keep copies of everything.

Additionally, avoid an online “checkbox” form to report a dispute. Even though mailing a dispute to the agency takes more time, it provides a better record of what you’re seeking and how you’re justifying it.

You should also send a copy of the dispute package to the credit furnisher, i.e., the credit card company or lender originating the information on your credit report.

Once the reporting agency receives your dispute, it has 30 days to investigate—but disputes are often ignored because they’re deemed “frivolous.” Even when a dispute is investigated, the credit reporting agency will often reduce your dispute to a two- or three-digit code that it sends to the credit furnisher. Your detailed explanation may get completely lost in the shuffle. That’s why it’s imperative to reach out to an attorney for help.

What to Do If Your Dispute Is Denied

Your options are limited if an investigation ends up finding no reason – in their eyes – to correct the error you reported. You can ask that a copy of your dispute be included in your file and passed along to creditors when your report is issued.

The final option is a lawsuit under FCRA, but the law limits legal action to cases where the credit reporting agency or information furnisher acted “willfully.” Fortunately, the law also defines willful as being “reckless” in that the entity knew—or should have known—that it was violating FCRA.

Under the statute of limitations, you have two years after the date you discovered the violation, or five years after the date of the violation, to file a lawsuit. If you win, you can recover any damages you suffered, along with attorneys’ fees.

Hiring Experienced Legal Counsel to Help

If you’ve gotten nowhere in resolving a credit reporting error that is damaging your ability to obtain new credit or is causing you to have to assume higher interest rate charges because of the error, contact us immediately at Oliva Law Bankruptcy. We can work with you, the credit reporting agency, and the credit furnisher to try to resolve the issue. If matters justify it, a lawsuit may be possible.

Oliva Law serves clients in and around the greater McAllen, Texas area, including Brownville, Harlingen, and Corpus Christi, and throughout the Rio Grande Valley.