REPORTING DISPUTES WITH EQUIFAX AND OTHER CREDIT REPORTING AGENCIES
Whether you’ve been the victim of identity theft or simply discovered an inaccuracy or outdated entry on your Equifax credit report, you will likely need to file a dispute with the credit reporting agency. When you send an effective dispute letter and the credit reporting agency fulfills its obligations under the law, the dispute process can be the quickest and easiest way to resolve problems with your credit report. Unfortunately, it’s easy to make a mistake in drafting a dispute letter—especially if you’re not familiar with the Equifax dispute process. And, credit reporting agencies don’t always conduct a thorough investigation or act as the law requires. Even when they do resolve the issue in the short term by deleting or correcting an entry, the creditor or debt collector may resubmit the inaccurate information, starting the cycle over again. In short, effectively reporting disputes with Equifax and other credit reporting agencies can be challenging, and requires more than dashing off a quick letter and hoping for the best.
Disputing an Entry on Your Credit ReportThe credit report dispute process is very similar from one credit reporting agency to another, and for good reason: the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires credit bureaus to conduct an investigation upon receipt of a dispute, sets a deadline for completion of the investigation and response to the consumer, and mandates correction or deletion of inaccurate, outdated, or incomplete information. Equifax, on its website, breaks the dispute process down into four basic steps:
- Review your credit report and identify any errors or inaccuracies
- Submit a dispute, either online or through the mail
- Equifax will conduct its investigation and respond to you within 30 days
- Equifax will make any appropriate updates or corrections to your credit report
- Sometimes, credit reporting agencies fail to act on dispute letters.
- Sometimes, their investigation is inadequate and fails to identify the problem.
- Sometimes, consumers don’t receive a response within the 30-day window.
- Sometimes, the credit reporting agency reaches the wrong conclusion and decides not to make changes, though the consumer is certain the entry is inaccurate or belongs to someone else.
- Sometimes, the credit reporting agency makes a change, but the bad information reappears in a few months.
Fair Credit Reporting Act ProtectionsWhen these and other problems arise during or after the dispute process, the FCRA provides remedies for consumers, including monetary damages.
Our FCRA Attorneys Can Help
Drafting an Effective Dispute LetterContact us if you’ve identified inaccuracies on your credit report such as:
- Negative items that are too old to be legally included on your credit report
- Accounts that you do not recognize or that don’t belong to you
- Inaccurate account balances
- Items discharged in bankruptcy still appearing on your credit report
Holding Credit Reporting Agencies to their ObligationsSpeak with one of our FCRA lawyers if you’ve already filed a dispute and Equifax:
- Has failed to respond within 30 days
- Has advised you that the entry is correct, although you know it is not
- Has failed to remove or update inaccurate or outdated information
Additional Credit Reporting DisputesNote that reporting disputes with Equifax and other credit reporting agencies has no impact on your reports with the other two major credit bureaus, TransUnion and Experian. If you’ve identified errors on one credit report, you will want to review all three reports and submit additional disputes as necessary. Under some circumstances, a dispute letter to the reporting creditor or collection agency may also be worthwhile.
Schlanger Law Group LLP serves clients in New Jersey, New York, and throughout the United States with consumer protection, class action, credit reporting, and identity theft issues.