Credit Report Review
In both Oregon and Washington and for that matter anywhere else, we now live in a credit score driven world which makes credit reporting, more critical than ever. We recommend reviewing your credit report for bad information every six months..
If you find any inaccuracies or omissions, you can use the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to hold reporters and furnishers liable. You may be entitled to actual damages, statutory damages and/or punitive damages, as well as free legal representation.
Your credit report ultimately is just a snapshot of your credit risk and is likely to change from month to month. Would be Creditors often want to know your record to date in juggling debt obligations and for better or worse they use credit reports to make that assessment.
So What is a Credit Report Anyway?
Credit reports are files which include your bill payment history and whether you have been delinquent and for how long on any given debt.. But credit reporting also includes a fair amount of personal information, including details about where you have lived and your employment history, as well as bankruptcy filings, law suits and arrests.
Consumer reporting agencies basically put together this information on an ongoing basis and sell your report to businesses who use the report to assess your applications for insurance credit, employment, and other purposes.
As you are probably aware, the three major national credit bureaus maintain credit files on just about every consumer in Oregon and Washington. Accurate reports are especially important if you’re considering applying for a job or contemplating buying or renting a home or car.
Checking in advance on the accuracy of the data in your report could eliminate any nasty surprises and greatly expedite the credit approval process.
Access to My Credit reports
Only people with a legitimate business or your permission can get a copy of your report. These include:
- Employers or prospective employers.
- Insurance companies
Your record should not be given to anyone who does not have a real business need for it. Stores to which you are not applying for credit or prospective employers may not examine your record without your permission, nor can a nosy neighbor or friend.
Per the terms of the FCRA, when your past due account is sent to collections, debt collectors may check your credit report if the original creditor has or had that right. Instances where the original creditor have that right require you to sign that right away. This almost always occurs when you sign an actual credit agreement. Applications for credit cards, auto loans and mortgages almost always give the original creditor this right. It is, however, always worth reviewing your credit application to see if the creditor enjoyed the right to pull you credit. If you didn’t give them that right and a debt collector later pulls accesses your report, it is an illegal pull punishable under the FCRA.
You are entitled to one free report from each bureau once every year. When you get your credit report, look for:
- Old Information. Sometimes credit information is too dated to give an accurate depiction of your financial reputation. There are different limits on how long certain kinds of info can be maintained in your file. For example, tax liens and judgments, arrest records, and most other kinds of negative information must be dropped after 7 years. Bankruptcy filings must be removed from your records after a decade.
- Negative Information. If you are refused credit, you are entitled to the identity of the credit reporting agency that was used for the refusal of credit. You may request this information by mail. While you won’t get a copy of the file, you will at least find out what’s in the report. The law also requires the credit reporting bureau to aid you in interpreting the data as we are talking about raw data that takes expertise to interpret. The credit reporting agency is not authorized to charge you for this service. Moreover, any error that you find must be investigated by the credit reporting agency. The agency must remove any errors from your file that the creditor admits are in error. If you disagree with the findings, you can file a statement for inclusion in your record and all further reports to creditors must reference your statement.
Under the FCRA, both the credit reporting agency and whoever furnished a report to the agency both have responsibilities for providing and accurate information in your report.
If your report contains erroneous information, the bureau must change it, including completing incomplete reporting. If an item is changed or removed, it cannot be reentered in your file without the furnisher verifies its accuracy, perhaps even more important, the bureau gives you notice that includes the name, phone number and address of the furnisher.
Per your request, the bureau must send notices of corrections to any company that received your report in the past six months. Job applicants can have a corrected copy of their report sent to any current or prospective employers who had been sent a copy during the past two years.
If you are going to dispute information, you should provide a letter clearly identifying every entry in your report that you dispute, give the facts and explain the basis of your dispute. In this letter, you should request that the entries in question be deleted or corrected. You should include a copy of your current credit report with the items clearly identified. The letter should be sent via certified mail so that you can document what the bureau actually received.
What are the obligations of the credit reporting agencies?
Credit reporting agencies must reinvestigate the items that you dispute, generally within 30 days unless they deem your dispute frivolous. As a part of this process, they must send on all relevant facts that you provide to the party that reported the information. After the company that reported the information receives notice of a dispute from the bureau, it is obligated to investigate and then send on the results of this investigation back to the Credit Reporting agency.
If the company cannot independently verify that you dispute is inaccurate, it must let the credit reporting agency know and correct this information in your file. Information that is disputed and not subsequently verified must be deleted from your file.
When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. Accurate negative information can generally stay on your report for 7 years. There are certain exceptions, including where you can leverage violations of your consumer rights.
Credit Reporting Agencies can report negative information as follows:
- late payments
- General negative information
- info related to a judgment against you can be reported for seven years
- Credit information reported due to an application for more than $150,000 worth of life insurance or credit
- Criminal convictions
Northwest Debt Defense Law Firm
650 NE Holladay St, Suite 1640
Portland, OR 97232, United States
NW Debt Defense Law Firm is a Debt Relief Agency. Where appropriate we file petitions for relief under the Bankruptcy Code solely for consumers in the District of Oregon. We represent both Oregon and Washington consumers in collections law suits in Oregon and Washington state courts.