Duty to Reinvestigate by the Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies

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The Fair Credit Reporting Act is designed to protect consumers from inaccurate or outdated information on credit reports.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

(a) Reinvestigations of disputed information

(1) Reinvestigation required

(A) In general

Subject to subsection (f) of this section, if the completeness or accuracy of any item of information contained in a consumer’s file at a consumer reporting agency is disputed by the consumer and the consumer notifies the agency directly, or indirectly through a reseller, of such dispute, the agency shall, free of charge, conduct a reasonable reinvestigation to determine whether the disputed information is inaccurate and record the current status of the disputed information, or delete the item from the file in accordance with paragraph (5), before the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date on which the agency receives the notice of the dispute from the consumer or reseller.

(B) Extension of period to reinvestigate

Except as provided in subparagraph (C), the 30-day period described in subparagraph (A) may be extended for not more than 15 additional days if the consumer reporting agency receives information from the consumer during that 30-day period that is relevant to the reinvestigation.

(C) Limitations on extension of period to reinvestigate

Subparagraph (B) shall not apply to any reinvestigation in which, during the 30-day period described in subparagraph (A), the information that is the subject of the reinvestigation is found to be inaccurate or incomplete or the consumer reporting agency determines that the information cannot be verified.

This section requires a Consumer Credit Reporting Agency to conduct a reinvestigation of their own if a consumer disputes the completeness or accuracy of an item in a credit file.

If a consumer disputes an item (called a tradeline) on a credit file (most people call it a credit report), they have to do certain things.  One of the things they must do is an investigation of their own.  They are not allowed to just believe the information that is passed to them by the furnisher of the information.  This is called parroting, and courts around the country have said that this is prohibited.  See, eg: Cushman v. TransUnion, 3rd Cir, 1997.  They must look for themselves.

REMEMBER- The Fair Credit Reporting Act is about ACCURACY.  If the item you are disputing is accurate and complete, there is no right to sue. This law is NOT strict liability- this means that you must show that they did something wrong, and that as a result of the fact that it is inaccurate and their reinvestigation did not solve the problem, that you suffered actual damages.

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

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