People occasionally want to have information removed from their credit file, but are not sure exactly what is wrong. One of the key features of the Fair Credit Reporting Act is that to have a basis for a lawsuit, the information must be false. But what is false or inaccurate information?
False means intentionally not true, intended to mislead or adjusted to deceive.
Inaccurate means not correct or exact, or having a mistake or error.
Simply put, the information is false if it is objectively not true.
Objectively not true means that a person looking from the outside would say this information is a lie.
- Debts that are not yours. This could be identity theft, or a mixed credit file.
- Late payments. This could be “late” payments on credit cards or “late” mortgage payments.
- Money that is owed, when there is a legal defense to the debt (like Bankruptcy).
- Changing the date of major delinquency, also known as date of last activity, like where they change when you were late.
- Showing that you are current on your mortgage when you do not have a mortgage.
Negative information has all the impact.
Negative information is more important to review than positive information. While positive information can affect you in more subtle ways (it shows that your debt to income ratio is off), but that is much easier to explain. The negative information – the lates, the defaults, the foreclosures and the repossessions- are much harder to explain away.
Not all negative information is false
Remember that just because information is negative does not mean that it should not be there. To have a right to sue, not only does the information have to be bad or negative, but false as well. Then you must go through the process of disputing the inaccurate information to the consumer credit reporting agencies. And it never hurts to send a copy of your dispute to the source of the inaccurate information.
It is important that when you dispute, that your dispute explains what is false and inaccurate about the information that you are disputing. You do not want to just say “there is false information on my credit file. Fix it.” There is no way that they know WHAT is false, much less why it might be false. You don’t want to just say “this judgment is false” you need to tell them the judgment is false because you are not the one who was sued. You need to say this is not my account because I did not open this account, and I never used any credit card from these people.
An example from a lawsuit we filed.
An example from a case I filed- There were 2 defaulted leases for credit card processing machines on my client’s credit file. There is only one problem- my client had never done business with this vendor. In fact, he had never been in business. He had never leased any equipment. Of course, they argued that somebody had defaulted. And I am sure that is true, it just wasn’t my client. It is false to say that my client defaulted on the equipment leases.
What happened, you might ask? We went through the process, and we sued the consumer credit reporting agencies. But how did it get there? We are still not sure. My job is not to find out why bad things happen, but to fix them when they do.
Image credit: Brad Gillette
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