What to Do About Credit Report Inaccuracies

Inaccuracies on a credit report may cost consumers opportunities in the form of employment, credit, housing, and more. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers have a right to see and dispute information that appears on their credit report, and CRAs are required by law to investigate each dispute and issue a response.

Adding A Statement to the Report

When a consumer disputes an inaccuracy on their report and the CRA cannot resolve it, the consumer is allowed to add a statement to the report for future employers/creditors to see. The idea is that the decision-makers who have pulled the report will take the new information into consideration.

When Inaccuracies Are Found

Credit reports are created with a requirement that there be “reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy” (FCRA), and following a dispute, in the case that inaccuracies are found, said information must be removed within 30 days of the dispute being made.

Disputing Inaccuracies with the Furnisher

In addition to filing disputes with the CRA, consumers may now dispute inaccurate information with the furnisher, also known as the entities that supply CRAs with the information that determines the consumer’s creditworthiness, all during the normal course of business (e.g. credit card companies, retail credit, loan agencies, etc.). The furnisher, in turn, may not report the information to the CRA without also acknowledging the dispute. In the event that the information is inaccurate, the furnisher must prevent it being re-reported to CRAs.

Information Shelf-Life

Some information on consumer credit reports have a shelf life:

  • Bankruptcies: 10 years
  • Civil suits, civil judgments, paid tax liens, arrest records, accounts placed for collection: 7 years
  • Criminal convictions: indefinitely

Good News for Consumers

Prior to the FACTA of 2003, consumers were forced to pursue disputes regarding fraudulent transactions directly with the CRA, but now credit information furnishers share more of the responsibility of ensuring accurate information on consumer credit reports. Following the FACTA, consumers may now work directly with furnishers to correct inaccurate information, thereby giving them fair access to legitimate opportunities throughout their lives.