Washington Credit Reporting Lawyer

Your credit score is much more than just a number. It has far-ranging impacts on your ability to obtain credit, loans, insurance, and even work. A federal law called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires credit bureaus to have policies and procedures designed to ensure accurate credit reporting. Additionally, these bureaus and the creditors that provide them with information must conduct reasonable investigations of consumer disputes. The FCRA also puts strict limits on who can pull your credit report. When companies do not comply with the FCRA, they can face legal action.

The Financial Justice Initiative—a joint project of two leading consumer protection firms, Terrell Marshall Law Group and Schlanger Law Group—empowers consumers and protects their rights. If a company failed to comply with the FCRA, we can review your claim, help you enforce compliance, and depending on the situation, pursue monetary damages on your behalf. Call a Washington credit reporting lawyer with us for a free consultation.

What’s In Your Credit Report

You’ve probably taken advantage of a free credit score tool to find out what your score is. But do you know how that score was calculated?

Your credit score, a snapshot of your creditworthiness, is based on your credit report. Credit reports contain information about past credit activity and the status of current credit accounts. They also contain personal information and public records. Some of the information contained in your credit report might surprise you, including:

  • Current and historical credit accounts, including the account type, creditor name, credit limit, account balance, payment history, and date of the account opening and closing
  • Personal information, such as names you have used on credit accounts, date of birth, social security number, current and former addresses, and phone numbers
  • Public records, including liens, foreclosures, bankruptcies, civil lawsuits and judgments, and information on overdue child support

The three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—use the FICO score model to calculate a three-digit number ranging from approximately 300 to 850. Each credit bureau has a slightly different proprietary scoring model that results in small score variations from one bureau to another. Your credit score is affected by the information that lenders and other businesses report to credit bureaus, including most notably your payment history, outstanding balances, and available credit.

How Your Credit Report Is Used

Through your credit report, your financial past affects your financial future. Unfortunately for many victims of inaccurate credit reporting, your actual credit history and the information appearing on your credit report are often very different.

According to the FTC, at least 1 in 5 consumers has an error on their credit report that could lead to them paying more for auto loans, insurance, and other products. And a survey from research group Demos found that 1 in 10 respondents said they had been denied a job because of information on their credit report.

Generally, your credit score is a measure of the risk you present to banks you intend to borrow money from and companies you intend to do business with. Having a good credit score makes most of the following easier and cheaper, while having a bad credit score can result in you paying more or being denied altogether:

  • Applying for a mortgage, auto loan, credit card, or financing
  • Getting a cell phone/cell phone plan
  • Opening a bank account
  • Obtaining home and auto insurance
  • Setting up utilities accounts
  • Renting a place to live
  • Refinancing a loan
  • Applying for a job

Consumers have the right to dispute errors on their credit report and have them corrected.

If you have tried unsuccessfully to dispute an error, or your inquiry is being ignored, a local credit reporting attorney can help. The Financial Justice Initiative’s attorneys—drawn from the consumer protection litigation teams at Terrell Marshall Law Group and Schlanger Law Group—regularly and successfully challenge credit reporting agencies and creditors, including the “big players,” on behalf of consumers who are suffering from inaccurate credit reports.

Your Rights Under The FCRA

The huge role that credit scores have on your financial life and overall quality of life underscores the importance of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Enacted in 1970 to promote the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of credit information, the FCRA enshrines certain consumer rights, including the right to:

  • Have a credit report that is the result of policies and procedures designed to maximize credit accuracy
  • Dispute inaccurate information and have it removed
  • Limit access to your credit report only to those with a valid need, such as a creditor, insurer, employer, or landlord
  • Place a freeze on your account, stop debt collectors from contacting you, and take other actions if you are the victim of identity theft
  • Seek damages from FCRA violators
  • Know what is in your file
  • A free credit report at regular intervals

Our well-practiced lawyers in Washington could help you learn more about the Fair Credit Reporting Act

Entities Regulated By the FCRA and Their Legal Obligations

The FCRA imposes obligations on credit reporting agencies (CRAs), persons and businesses that provide, or furnish, credit information to CRAs (“information furnishers”), and third party users of consumer reports.

  • Credit Reporting Agencies or CRAs (e.g. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) must use policies and procedures that are designed to maximize the accuracy of their consumer reports; reasonably investigate consumers’ disputes of reported information; and make sure that that their consumer reports are only provided for permissible purposes. Examples of CRA violations of the FCRA include mixing credit information of two or more people due to sloppy procedures; failing to report a debt that was discharged or settled; reporting payments as late that were in fact paid on time; and failing to correct or delete inaccurate information after it is disputed.
  • Information furnishers such as banks, credit card companies, lenders, and collection agencies are barred under the FCRA from verifying inaccurate information to CRAs. For example, where a consumer disputes inaccurate information with a CRA, the CRA must seek verification of the account information as part of its investigation. A creditor may be held liable under the FCRA if it verifies the inaccurate information.
  • Users of consumer reports (e.g. creditors, landlords, insurers, utility companies, and employers) must, by law, have a permissible purpose to obtain a credit report and notify consumers when adverse actions are taken based on their report. When credit report users request a credit report for an impermissible purpose or fails to notify you of a negative decision (such as not hiring you or providing you with a loan) based on your credit report, they may have violated the FCRA. This whitepaper explains common ways that current or prospective employees may sue under the FCRA.

Get Experienced Guidance From a Washington Credit Report Attorney

While government agencies have authority to enforce the FCRA, individuals whose FCRA rights were violated may be better served by filing a private consumer lawsuit. At the same time, navigating this complex statute and the vast body of case law surrounding it has its own challenges.

The Financial Justice Initiative, a joint project of the Terrell Marshall Law Group and the Schlanger Law Group, combines the resources, experience, and knowledge of two of the country’s leading consumer protection law firms. Our Washington credit report lawyers are industry leaders in bringing cases against credit reporting agencies, employers, and other responsible entities for violating consumers’ credit reporting rights. Thanks to the FCRA’s fee-shifting provision, we are able to represent consumers on a contingency-fee basis. If we don’t win your case, you pay no legal fees.

To discuss a potential credit reporting lawsuit during a free case review, please call or contact us.