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Credit Reporting

I have assisted many individuals whose credit reports contain errors. Sometimes these errors are a result of “identify theft.” Other times, they are simply errors caused by an imperfect credit reporting system. In either case, the Fair Credit Reporting Act provides consumers with the legal tools to force credit reporting agencies and companies who report information to credit reporting agencies to correct the errors.

I have also handled “unauthorized access” cases where someone has pulled a credit report without permission or other legal authority.

TIP: You can get a free credit report from Experian, Trans-Union, and Equifax. The credit reports can be obtained instantaneously online at www.annualcreditreport.com. Or you can call 1-877-322-8228 or write to P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, Ga., 30348-5281.

TIP: Once you receive the credit report, check it carefully for inaccuracies. Also, check to see if there are “inquiries” on your credit report which you do not recognize. Companies can only access your credit report if the access was authorized by you, was required by the law, or if the credit report is to be used for one of the purposes allowed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, such as credit evaluation, employment decisions or collections.

TIP: In order to strengthen a legal claim against a company for providing wrong information to credit reporting agencies, consumers should usually dispute the information with the credit reporting agencies. This can be done simply by sending the credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Trans-union) letters which explain why the information reported is incorrect. You should attach copies of any documents which prove that the information on your credit report is wrong. It is a good idea to send this letter certified mail, return receipt requested, and to send a copy to the company which is reporting the wrong information. The credit reporting agencies are required to investigate and inform you of the results of your dispute within 30 days in most cases. Below is a sample letter disputing credit information, to be sent by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested (keep a copy of everything you sent):

Jane Doe
123 Maple Street
Anytown, California zip

Experian, 701 Experian Parkway, Allen, TX 75013

Equifax, 1550 Peachtree Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30309
Trans Union 555 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL 30309
Sears, P.O. Box 6282, Sioux Falls, SD 57117

To Whom it May Concern:

I’m writing to dispute the Sears/CBNA entry on my credit report, account #1234567. This account was opened to finance a roofing job by Sears. $15,000.00 was charged to the Sears/CBNA account as payment for the roofing job. That is the only charge on this account. However, in the course of doing the roofing job, Sears negligently burned down almost all of my house. Because the roofing job was not completed, and because Sears burned down most of my house, I have not received what I paid for and have not made payments on the Sears/CBNA account.

Sears/CBNA’s collectors have been calling me repeatedly to demand payment on my account, and now has reported that I am late to the credit reporting agencies.

My understanding is that I am not required to make payment when I did not receive what I bought, especially when Sears not only failed to complete the roofing job, but also burned down my house. Please remove all negative information from my credit report about the Sears/CBNA account.



Signed, Jane Doe

1) Sears contract for roofing job dated January 1, 2010;
2) Copy of fire report.
3) Copy of California Driver’s License (for identification)

Successful Case Result

My client paid off his home loan with Citimortgage Inc. early. Citimortgage’s computer system would not allow my client to make his last payment, even though the mortgage documents gave my client the right to pre-pay the mortgage. Citimortgage’s computers accepted the final payment, but did not apply it to his account. In subsequent months, when no further payments were made by my client, Citimortgage reported derogatory credit. My client requested that they withdraw the derogatory credit but they refused. We successfully brought a lawsuit to force Citimortgage to remove the negative credit information and for damages.

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