Last month, a jury handed an Oregon woman a huge victory over one of the big three credit reporting agencies, when it ordered the company to pay $18.6 million in damages.
The reason? The woman repeatedly asked Equifax to fix errors on her credit report, and the company failed to do so.
“There was damage to her reputation, a breach of her privacy and the lost opportunity to seek credit,” one of the woman’s attorneys said following the verdict, according to the Associated Press.
The award is likely to be appealed, but it’s a huge step toward holding accountable these firms that play such an oversize role — without need for our consent — in our personal finances.
The verdict reminded me that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has begun tracking complaints about credit bureaus.
The government agency provides access to its complaint data, so I thought I’d look for some trends. When I checked, the database included complaints from Oct. 22, 2012, through July 10, 2013.
Given the reputation of the credit bureaus, it’s no surprise people complained most that some piece of information on their credit reports was flat wrong.
Of the 8,661 complaints in the database, nearly 66% focused on bad information on credit reports.
And that bad information ranged from listing an incorrect account status to reinserting previously deleted information.
So, yeah, credit report information is notoriously wrong, which is why it’s important that you check your reports regularly. You can get three free reports a year — one from each of the big three bureaus — at www.annualcreditreport.com.
If you find something incorrect, report it to the credit bureau. If the issue isn’t resolved to your satisfaction, file a complaint with the CFPB.