How do I get my credit report corrected?
April 22, 2005 7:01 PM   Subscribe

Since my wallet was stolen, I've been trying to get a particular inaccuracy on my credit report corrected with no luck. I have written to the company that owns my report using their own online dispute form and via snail mail. It's been 6 months and I don't know what else to do to get them to respond.

Last November, I reported my credit card stolen immediately and the number was deactivated before any false transactions could take place. I was issued a new card and number by the same company, who promised to report the card as lost/stolen to the company that owns my credit report. My balance at the time was transferred to the new card.

The credit reporting company -- which is affiliated with Equifax, no less -- has never removed the old card with its old balance from my report. Because I was at the end of a lengthy business trip at the time and using it for large expenses, the balance was over 2k when it was stolen. So, according to my report, I have 2k+ worth of debt waiting to be paid off, when in fact it has long been paid off. This is lowering my FICO score significantly.

This company only one phone number on its site that is unusable because it only provides information on how to file a report, not customer service, which I sure as hell think should be illegal for a company that controls such vital information, so I can't call and talk to a human being. They've not responded to my several written requests. My credit company says they've provided the information to them and there is nothing more they can do to intervene. Despite that I purchased a year's worth of an expensive credit report update service from them, Equifax also will not intervene, but just punts me back to this same damn unresponsive company. I will shortly be making a purchase that will require my credit to be as solid as possible, so the situation has become urgent. How do I force them to clean up their act?
posted by melissa may to Work & Money (10 answers total)
Do you have any lawyer friends? If you can prove that the credit reporting agency has mishandled your report, you could extract a nice settlement from them.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:05 PM on April 22, 2005

The credit card company already told Equifax/Experian/Transunion that the debt is incorrect.

Now you need to deal with them. (They are the 3 credit agencies that make everyone's life miserable)

You need to file a formal dispute with whichever credit agencies are showing the bad debt. The crummy phone number will tell you how to do this.

You do it in writing. Keep copies of everything, if you want to a be a stickler send it certified mail/return receipt. They have to legally respond within 30 days.

(All information above courtesy of my wife who deals with these idiots all the time)
posted by Lord_Pall at 8:02 PM on April 22, 2005

Response by poster: LP, I gave written notice via the company web site and via snail mail with copies kept. It's been well over 30 days for both. Maybe MegoSteve is right and it's lawerying time, though I'd really like to avoid it if possible.

The last time I contacted my credit card company, they told me that this was a simple matter that, given the length of time that's passed, should be cleared up within a day if the credit reporting company simply called them. So, I filed another online dispute, and a check of my credit report as of today shows that the credit reporting company made an internal inquiry to my report on the same date. That was 15 business days ago.

What I'm hoping is that there's some kind of overseeing agency or consumer watchdog group of the credit reporting companies that can intervene.
posted by melissa may at 8:39 PM on April 22, 2005

On further examination, I don't quite follow the logic of who's not responding.

You don't deal with your credit card company anymore. You file disputes with equifax proper.

If they're ignoring you, use certified mail to file a formal request using their process, get them to not respond in 30 days, and then nail them with a lawyer.
posted by Lord_Pall at 8:40 PM on April 22, 2005

You have filed grievances with the credit reporting agency They did nothing.

Your card company said you are correct and you shouldn't have the debt, but the reporting agency hasn't contacted them.

Can you get something in writing from the credit card company to provide to equifax explaining the debt is crap?

You'll probably want to start investigating a lawyer as well.

I hate credit agencies.
posted by Lord_Pall at 8:49 PM on April 22, 2005

Oh yeah.. More advice.

Find a senior officer at the credit card company, formally contact them (in writing) and explain that they have ruined your credit and demand that they fix it.

Skip all of the customer service people, skip all of the managers.

Go straight to the VP or president. Typically when they get letters like that they jump. It gets better handling than letters and correspondance that goes through customer service.

The credit card company CAN demand that equifax fix the mistake and provide proof to you that it has been fixed. (My wife has in fact done this at a previous job where she handled problem mortgages).

You just need to find the right person at the credit card company.
posted by Lord_Pall at 8:52 PM on April 22, 2005

Best answer: Well this must set some sort of record for answers by people who haven't bothered to read the question fully...

IANAL, but here's my two cents on what I would do. Since you have pretty much exhausted all of your polite possibilities, and six months have elapsed, its time to get tough. I would send a letter detailing your complaint (again) and saying quite clearly that you are prepared to pursue legal action on this matter if you do not hear a positive response within X number of days (I'd say one week). Send the letter to any and all addresses at the company. You may want to do something like place an "re: Notice of potential legal action" at the top to get their attention.

If that doesn't get their attention then yes, you may well have to retain a lawyer, who will do the same thing that you did but will put it on a lawyer's letterhead. The threat of legal action might well light a fire under their asses.

If you really want to play hardball, you can do the same thing with Equifax and the credit card company: tell them that you are ready to pursue legal action involving them if the matter isn't cleared up. This may convince them that its in their best interests to use their leverage to clear the matter up for you.

Sorry you have to deal with this. Good luck!
posted by googly at 7:14 AM on April 23, 2005

A lawyer is going to cost you $$$. Why don't you consider suing them in small claims court for the maximum amount allowable by law? It will cost you up to $500 to get done, but that doesn't seem like much at this point.

Although you won't win much more than court fees, having a judgement against them will mean that a judge has told them to light a fire under their collective asses and get things fixed. At that point they won't be allowed to ignore the problem, unless they want the judge to start issuing warrants.

It is unlikely, though, the problem will make it to court. It is much more likely Equifax's legal department will read your case and solve it within the first phone call to you. Even if they don't offer the cost of court fees to you, it's probably worth getting it done at this stage, anyways.

I have used small claims to solve other disputes that were going nowhere with spectacular results.

It is unfortunate you're in the USA. In Canada we can harass corporations like this by filing PIPEDA disclosure requests and asking the governor general to fix the mistakes for us (yes, the governor general obviously doesn't do it personally... :-) The results for refusing to fix mistakes are fines starting at about $10,000 or so.
posted by shepd at 8:10 AM on April 23, 2005

I would think that you could also write your state's Attorney General and ask for help. It is a rather straight forward problem. But personally, I'd rather see you get a hunk of change out of the bastards.
posted by Goofyy at 3:13 AM on April 24, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks to all of you for your sympathy and advice. A happy update: googly, the threat of legal action finally resolved the situation, and is probably something I should have done sooner.

I don't think that I'll ever stop monitoring my credit on a monthly basis -- it's amazing to me that, despite doing everything in my power to prevent something like this from happening (filing a police report, immediately cancelling my cards, monitoring my credit closely, informing the company that their records were in error), it still took me half a year to resolve such a straightforward problem.

I can't imagine what someone who actually becomes a victim of ID threat -- my greatest fear in this situation -- goes through, and I fervently hope I never find out. Thanks again.
posted by melissa may at 6:17 PM on May 7, 2005

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