What happens when you dispute information in your credit report?
The title of this article is slightly wrong; it ought to be: What should happen when you dispute information in your credit report? That’s because what should happen doesn’t always happen.
When you dispute inaccurate, incomplete or misleading information in your credit report with a consumer reporting agency (that is, a credit bureau in normal people-speak), the best known of which are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the bureau must conduct a reasonable investigation to determine whether the disputed information is inaccurate. By the way, the Fair Credit Reporting Act calls this not an investigation, but a reinvestigation—even though there never was a prior investigation! Hey, I don’t make this stuff up; Congress does.
As part of this reinvestigation, the bureau is required to tell the person or entity that sent it your information (we know that entity in the business as a “furnisher”), that you are disputing the information. Upon receipt of this notice, the furnisher must do three things: (1) conduct an investigation with respect to the disputed information; (2) review all relevant information provided by the bureau in connection with your dispute; and (3) report the results of the investigation to the bureau.
Should the investigation determine that your disputed information is inaccurate or incomplete or cannot be verified, the furnisher must, based on the results of its investigation: promptly modify, delete permanently , or block the reporting of that information to the bureaus.
The problem is that the process does not always work. Maybe, just maybe, the furnishers and bureaus don’t really much care about your rights. Face it, as Bob Seger suggested, you are just a number to these organizations. So what do you do when the process breaks down and your legitimate dispute goes unresolved?
Funny you should ask a lawyer: you have the right to sue both the furnisher and the bureau for screwing you. You can do it yourself, but I suggest you contact a friendly consumer lawyer to handle the matter. And, as I explain in a prior post, the consumer lawyer will not charge you any money to do this work. Is this a great country or what!
P.S.: The Seger tune I allude to is Feel Like a Number in the album Stranger in Town. It’s an excellent tune in an excellent album.