Who Is Responsible for Discovering Credit Report Errors?

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Many years ago, while in the process of purchasing my first home, I received notice from my mortgage broker that there were some listings on my credit report that would affect my ability to obtain financing for the home.

Up to this point in my life, I had never pulled my own credit report (this was before I became associated with Lexington Law Firm). After getting some pointers from my mortgage broker, I pulled a three-in-one credit report and discovered that there were indeed a couple of 30-day late listings on my report. I did not recognize the creditors and investigated further. During my investigation I found out that my father (who has the same first and last name but a different middle name) was a customer of these previously unknown creditors and had been late with his payment on a couple of occasions. These listings were erroneously placed on my credit report.

Because I was an attorney, I decided to do a little bit of research into who is responsible to discover errors on consumer’s credit reports. During my research, I thoroughly reviewed the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 USC 1681 et seq.) and I found that the credit bureaus were responsible to adopt reasonable procedures that were fair, equitable, accurate and relevant when reporting consumer information. (See 15 USC 1681a(b)). Additionally, I found that:

“Whenever a consumer reporting agency prepares a consumer report it shall follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual about whom the report relates.”

See 15 USC 1681e(b). With this in mind, it was clear that the consumer reporting agencies are responsible to provide accurate information on consumer credit reports and, as an extension of this duty, to discover errors on consumer credit reports. However, even though there is a statutory duty to provide accurate credit reporting, the credit bureaus still make mistakes and erroneous information still appears on credit reports.

So, what does this mean to us, the consumer? It means that the credit bureaus compile, maintain and provide consumer credit reports for tens of millions of adults living in the United States. The information compiled and stored by the credit bureaus is staggering and errors will be made. It means that we must be pragmatic when it comes to discovering errors on our credit reports. We know our lives best. We know the creditors we have done business with. We know if we have a judgment or if we have filed for bankruptcy. It is ultimately up to us, the consumer, to pull our credit reports, review the reports thoroughly and challenge inaccuracies on those reports.