What must a Consumer Credit Reporting Agency do with the information you provide?

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The Fair Credit Reporting Act is designed to protect consumers from inaccurate or outdated information on credit reports.

CONSUMER REPORTING AGENCY REINVESTIGATIONS and The Fair Credit Reporting Act

All references to code sections are courtesy of the Legal Information Institute at Law.Cornell.edu.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the Credit Reporting Agencies, or Consumer Reporting Agencies to conduct a reinvestigation and the procedures around that reinvestigation.

The section that discusses the requirements for reinvestigation of a disputed item is 15 U.S.C. §1681i.

As usual, we start with the statute.  Please note that we will only be reviewing the section on reinvestigations, so the rest of the section will not be reprinted or discussed.

(4) Consideration of consumer information

In conducting any reinvestigation under paragraph (1) with respect to disputed information in the file of any consumer, the consumer reporting agency shall review and consider all relevant information submitted by the consumer in the period described in paragraph (1)(A) with respect to such disputed information.

How does this impact you?

The Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies have a duty to consider the information that you provide them.  That means that if you send them a copy of a judgment order that you do not owe the plaintiff money, they are obligated to consider that information.

That also means that when you send a ID Theft Affidavit, or a police report, they must consider that information.  The ID Theft Affidavit and police report are less reliable, as people make mistakes.  They can have old accounts that they do not remember, and thereby be mistaken, so they logically cannot just take your word for it.  They have to CONSIDER your information.  That means that if you provide a affidavit, or some other document with a comparable signature, they should be comparing the signatures.

This obviously comes into play much more with inaccuracies of the “not mine” type.

However, the incorrect status cases also have this issue.  For example, if the credit card company claims that you were late, or did not get a payment during a certain month, then if you provide a copy of the statement from that month (showing the minimum payment due and the due date) and the cleared check, showing that they got at least the minimum payment, on or before the due date.  With that information, the credit reporting agency has all the information necessary to show that the payment was made on time.  If you only provide a copy of the check, they do not have all, but they do have information they must CONSIDER, so they have to actually investigate.

But how does this play out in reality? Do you think that the Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies consider the information that you provide?

Our experience, and the experience of many courts around the country show that the opposite is true.  In Cushman v. Trans Union Corp, a US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals opinion from 1997, the court explained that a Consumer Reporting Agency (in that case, TransUnion) could not merely parrot the information of the creditor who was furnishing the data.  In Apodaca v. Discover, a case from the District of New Mexico, the district court held the same against Equifax.  In Whitesides v. Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc., the court in the Western District of Louisiana followed the same line against Experian.  In Crabill v. Trans Union, LLC, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2001, again, the court found that Trans Union was “parroting”.

While it is possible that the Consumer Credit Reporting Agency has actually looked at your documents, it is unlikely.

HOWEVER WE MUST STRESS THAT THE INFORMATION MUST BE INACCURATE OR THERE IS NO CASE AT ALL.  A technical violation is not a violation.  See, for example, the case of Deandrade v. Trans Union, LLC, 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, 2008, in which the consumer had sued his mortgage company under a different statute, to undo his mortgage, claiming there were errors. Before that case was resolved, he sued TransUnion as they continued to report that the mortgage was still due.  Because the underlying case had not been resolved, it was unclear that the consumer had no liability for the mortgage, and therefore, it was reasonable for the Consumer Credit Reporting Agency to continue to report that he owed money, albeit with a notation that the account was disputed.

If you have been impacted by anything we mentioned here, you can make an appointment to see us.

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The rights afforded to you, as a consumer, under the FCRA and the FDCPA means that a corporation or party who has violated your rights may ultimately be made to pay for statutory damages, actual damages, and your legal fees. Therefore, if we agree to represent you in any case, you won’t pay any attorney’s fees unless we are successful and we recover on your behalf. We are here to serve and have assisted many consumers TO enforce their legal rights. Let us try and see if we can help you too. That means you pay no fee in your case unless we recover.

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Krumbein Consumer Legal Services, Inc.

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