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The credit bureaus have incorrect information about me. I believe the root cause is that I'm a "Jr." to my late father of the same same name. As a result, the credit bureaus list his Arkansas address as mine, though I've never lived there. They list his lease of a Cadillac as mine, though I've never leased a car. There are other items, too, such as loans he's had that are on my record. Credit-wise, I don't think it's an issue, since we've both been diligent about payments.

But as a result, I sometimes have trouble accessing my online information. For example, I tried to access my social security information, but some of their questions refer to loans my dad had. I don't know the information offhand, but I could request my credit reports so that I can regurgitate the wrong information they seek.

Some years ago, I followed the process, at some personal expense, as I understood it, by sending the bureaus registered mail, starting with the basics, asking them to remove the Arkansas address from my record. I figured I'd get that fixed first, then go on to the actual financial issues, such as removing the lease. They refused to correct the information. One said they have it "on good authority" that the wrong information is correct.

Questions:

  • Primary question: Is there a step between what I've done and hiring a lawyer, such as reaching out to an elected official?
  • Does everyone have wrong information in their credit records, or do the organizations get it right for some subset of the population?
  • Are there any issues if I provide incorrect information (say, to the social security depaartment) that's consistent with what the credit bureaus have?
  • Are banks and other institutions naïve about the validity of information from the credit bureaus? Or do they know the information is incorrect, but just don't care?
  • Will this affect my ability to actually receive social security?

Larger question - are there any movements underway to replace credit bureaus with a system that works? That's probably a question for politics, though.

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  • @RonBeyer - Okay, thanks. The primary question strikes me as an issue of what my legal recourse is, but I want to get this in the right place for the best answer. – Don Branson Oct 28 '18 at 20:26
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    If you asked "what is the law about having correct information on a credit report", I can see that as on-topic here, but because you are asking for specific legal advice that would also be off-topic. – Ron Beyer Oct 28 '18 at 20:27
  • @RonBeyer - Gotcha. At his point, I'm frustrated beyond words - well, beyond words that won't get me kicked off stackexchange - so getting this question well-formed and well-placed would be a benefit to me. :) – Don Branson Oct 28 '18 at 20:30
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    I'm not a Jr, but I'm a III, so I do feel your pain, I've had issues verifying information in the past, but luckily my credit report is my own. – Ron Beyer Oct 28 '18 at 20:34
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    According to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Credit_Reporting_Act in a 2015 study some 23% of individuals identified errors in their credit reports. – David Siegel Oct 29 '18 at 17:25
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If you look at the text of the FRRA as amended You will find Sec 611. Procedure in case of disputed accuracy [15 U.S.C. § 1681i] which provides the Legal framework for dealing with content in credit reports whoich the subject stated to be in accurate.

Under Sec 611(a)(1) the consumer is entitled to demand a re-investigation of any stated inaccuracy. Specifically:

if the completeness or accuracy of any item of information contained in a consumer’s file at a consumer reporting agency is disputed by the consumer and the consumer notifies the agency directly, or indirectly through a reseller, of such dispute, the agency shall, free of charge, conduct a reasonable reinvestigation to determine whether the disputed information is inaccurate and record the current status of the disputed information, or delete the item from the file in accordance with paragraph (5), before the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date on which the agency receives the notice of the dispute from the consumer or reseller.

Under Sec 611(a)(2)(a) the credit reporting agency (CRA) must notify the source of the information (known as the furnisher) of such a re-investigation within 5 days.

Under Sec 611(a)(4), during such a re-investigation

the consumer reporting agency shall review and consider all relevant information submitted by the consumer ...

Under Sec 611(a)(5) any information found to be "inaccurate or incomplete or cannot be verified" the CRA must delete it and take precautions that it shall not be re-added to the credit report.

Under Sec 611(a)(6)(B) the CRA must provide to the consumer, within 5 days after the investigation is closed, several things, including:

  • a note of the results;
  • an updated report based on those results, including any deletions or changes resulting from the investigation;
  • various notices about the consumer's rights.

If the consumer requests it (and it must be specifically asked for) the CRA must provide to the consumer (under Sec 611(a)(7)) within 15 days after the request for it a description of the process of investigation used, including

"the business name and address of any furnisher of information contacted in connection with such information and the telephone number of such furnisher, if reasonably available"

If the consumer requests it (and it must be specifically asked for) the CRA must (under Sec 611(b)) accept AND FILE a statement of dispute (which may be limited to 100 words if the CRA so chooses). Such a statement must thereafter be supplied with all credit reports containing the disputed information, and all re-sellers of the information must also include it.

If a consumer has been through this process, and the CRA has concluded the information to be accurate, the description of the investigation and the statement of dispute is all that a CRA is required to do under the FCRA. It may provide an internal appeals process. It may reconsider at the request of an elected official, but neither is required. Beyond that, one would have to file a lawsuit.

However, if you can obtain additional information which shows the error, you can submit this and I think that the CRA would need to investigate that. (The description of the investigation which he CRA must provide on request might suggest sources of information to check.) But the CRA may dismiss "trivial" and "frivolous" complaints without substantial investigation.

If you knowingly provide inaccurate information in an attempt to secure credit, you could possibly be found guilty of fraud or other crime. This might perhaps be true even in an attempt to secure acess to records. You could say (or better write) something like "The following information is incorrect, but appears in my credit report: ..."

Banks and financial institutions know that credit reports contain inaccuracies, but may not know how common they are, and may not be willing to do their own checking -- that is why they pay credit agencies in the first place, after all. But that will depend on the particular institution, and the kind of transaction involved. The larger the sum, the more independent checking they will probably be willing to do.

I doubt that this sort of error will actually interfere with your receipt of Social Security, but try consulting a social security office.

  • So, I did request them to correct the information, but they said that they're certain the information is correct. Are you saying that the CRA is a more thorough procedure that must specifically be requested? – Don Branson Oct 30 '18 at 14:09
  • You say, 'You could say (or better write) something like "The following information is incorrect, but appears in my credit report: ..."' Actually, I have done that, mentioning that the car lease was my Dad's. It wasn't to obtain credit, just for verification of authenticity, just as mentioned in the question. I should be clear to everyone, I'd think, that using false information to get credit or social security would be illegal. – Don Branson Oct 30 '18 at 14:12
  • Also, what kind of proof could I provide that proves I never lived at such-and-such an address in Arkansas? I'm not sure how that would work. – Don Branson Oct 30 '18 at 14:13
  • In theory I suppsoe you could provide voting, tax, and employment records showiung that you were living elsewhere at the time. But it dhouldn't be up to you to prove it. When you challange statements in a credit report as inaccurate, the CRA is supposed to check them, and remove them unless they can be shown to be accurate. Usually that works, in my experience. This time it hasn't for you. I'm not sure ifr there is anything short of a suit that will work – David Siegel Oct 30 '18 at 16:33
  • "CRA" is "credit reporting agency"., a firm nor a process. You can ask the CRA what it did to investigate and they have to tell you. This should show how they detemined that the incorrect statements were true. It may show the hole in theitr logic. You may need to hire a PI or a lawyer to use the info, depending on the details. – David Siegel Oct 30 '18 at 16:37

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