These Common Consumer Right Violations May Surprise You

You probably know that, as a consumer, you have certain rights under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This law primarily regulates the way credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — use the information they receive regarding your credit history. The law also applies to other entities such as banks, landlords and credit unions as well as businesses that use information on credit reports for hiring purposes.

Individuals are becoming increasingly aware of their consumer rights. Still, even the savviest of consumers are often surprised to learn about the most common violations of rights granted to them under the FCRA. Here are the abuses we see all too frequently in our practice:

Reporting inaccurate information

Information provided to the credit reporting agencies must be correct. The most prevalent way this duty is breached occurs when furnishers provide the bureaus inaccuracies related to:

  • incorrect balances or payment history,

  • a debt that's been settled or paid; and

  • a debt that doesn't belong to you.

It's best to dispute errors with each of the consumer reporting agencies. They are legally obligated to conduct an investigation upon receiving the dispute so that they can correct or delete inaccurate information.

Providing and reporting outdated information

Information furnished to credit reporting agencies is required to be current. Violations of this conduct include failing to report a discharge of bankruptcy, re-aging an account to continue the reporting in an effort to receive payment, and reporting information more than seven years old.

Merging credit files

Credit reporting agencies are prohibited from mixing the credit files of its consumers. This duty is breached by the bureaus when someone's negative credit information is duplicated in the file of another person. Typically this occurs when the victim shares a similar name, social security number and/or other personal identifying information. It can also happen as the result of identity theft.

Failing to follow proper investigation procedures

When credit reporting agencies reports inaccurate information, you have a right to dispute the information and request an investigation. The bureaus are then required to conduct a reasonable investigation into your claim and report back to you. Violations of this nature happen when the credit reporting agencies fail by:

  • not conducting a reasonable (re)investigation or doing so in a negligent manner, include failing to inform a creditor of your dispute;

  • conducting a unreasonable investigation into your dispute, by failing to follow their own procedures; or

  • failing to update or delete inaccurate information from your report after an investigation.