Congress enacted the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in 1970 to protect consumers from inaccurate credit, background and consumer reporting, and from unauthorized credit report requests. Accurate reporting and privacy are essential for your income and well being because they can affect your ability to secure employment, housing, and loans.
If you suspect your credit rights were violated, please contact a Washington FCRA litigation lawyer from our team for a complimentary consultation by emailing [email protected].
Our FCRA litigation attorneys in Washington can explain in detail which reports are covered by the Fair Credit Reporting Act during a case consultation. However, the most common reports include credit reports and background checks.
When you apply for a credit card, housing, or employment, a bank, employer or landlord may pull your credit information to help determine if you are a reliable and trustworthy individual who can support future debts, obligations, or jobs. Credit reporting agencies such as Experian, Equifax, or Transunion provide your credit score, credit history, and other personal information to inform these individuals or organizations of your trustworthiness.
Your credit score is calculated using your payment history for accounts such as credit cards and utilities. It also accounts for debts, length of credit history, and how many inquiries or credit applications you have had in the last year.
In addition to the “big three” credit reporting agencies, there are many other businesses that collect data and are covered under the FCRA, including services that provide tenant screening, employment screening, and background checks.
Background checks provide more types of information than a credit report and are often the source of FCRA violations.
For example, an employer may run a background check on you to find out your credit score, criminal background, and information about where you’ve lived to determine if they want to hire you.
Reporting agencies have obligations to ensure this information is accurate, and provide you with information regarding your report so you can correct inaccuracies.
When your credit report has inaccuracies, it can impact your ability to pass a credit or background check for a job, apartment application, or loan.
Examples of inaccurate reporting include:
Additionally, you must be informed if your credit report has been used against you in an adverse action. That means, if someone denied your application based on your credit, they must tell you and give you the name and contact information of the credit reporting agency that provided the information.
Credit reporting agencies can only release your credit reports to those with “valid need,” such as:
For your report to be provided to an employer or potential employer, you must provide written consent. If your reports were provided to your employer or potential employer without your consent, contact a local FCRA litigation attorney immediately.
First, review your credit report annually and look for inaccuracies.
Many types of FCRA violations will not be apparent until you review your credit report. A good starting point is to request a credit report from all three credit reporting agencies and review them for accuracy. Each year, you are permitted to obtain one free copy of your credit report from each credit reporting agency.
If there are accounts on your report that are the result of identity theft or unauthorized use, or if your account history is not accurately reflected, you may need to first dispute the inaccurate information in order to get the FCRA’s full protections.
Once you have disputed your credit report with the credit reporting agencies, they have an obligation to conduct a reasonable investigation, including contacting the creditor or other entity furnishing the incorrect data. What constitutes a reasonable investigation will depend on the circumstances, including the nature of the error and how much detail and proof you provide to the credit bureau.
Many FCRA violations relate to the failure of credit bureaus and creditors to remove inaccurate information in response to a consumer’s dispute. Unfortunately, our lawyers experienced in FCRA litigation see this all the time. For tips on the dispute process, click here.
It is also a good idea to review your credit report to make sure that no one has made an unauthorized credit report request or “impermissible credit pull.” A credit report will usually list all credit pulls toward the end of the report, after the list of your account histories.
When companies fail to comply with their FCRA obligations to consumers, consumers may be able to file a lawsuit and collect monetary damages. A settlement may depend on whether the violation is willful or negligent. Types of harm for which compensation may be awarded include:
As long as your case is successful, the business that violated the FCRA is also responsible for paying your attorneys’ fees. Punitive damages or extra damages awarded by the court for particularly bad conduct, may be available as well.
If a credit reporting agency, or, in some cases, a user of consumer reports or furnisher of information violates the FCRA, you may be able to file suit in state or federal court.
The attorneys of the Financial Justice Initiative are industry leaders in bringing cases against credit reporting agencies, employers, housing authorities, and other responsible entities for violating consumers’ credit reporting rights.
Our FCRA practice team includes attorneys from both Terrell Marshall Law Group and Schlanger Law Group LLP who are committed to protecting consumer rights, with a focus on identity theft, credit reporting and consumer class actions.
Our firms work together to bring justice to consumers whose rights have been violated. For FCRA lawsuit claims, we have secured debt relief, cash payments, and the removal of inaccurate credit information.
We have successfully represented many victims of inaccurate credit reporting. Here are a few examples of individual consumers we have been able to assist:
Our FCRA Class Action Work:
The consumer protection attorneys at Terrell Marshall Law Group and Schlanger Law Group LLP have extensive experience representing victims of inaccurate credit reporting. Connect with our team using our online form or call for a free legal evaluation. Working with a Washington FCRA litigation lawyer on our team can ensure your rights are protected.