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Chicago FCRA Lawyer

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Michael Agruss

Written and Reviewed by Michael Agruss

  • Managing Partner and Personal Injury Lawyer at Mike Agruss Law.
  • Over 20 years of experience in Personal Injury.
  • Over 8000+ consumer rights cases settled.
  • Graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law: Juris Doctor, 2004.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects consumers from abuse by credit reporting agencies (CRAs) while allowing lenders and others to continue using credit reports to determine a person’s credit risk. Also known as credit bureaus, CRAs compile information from your credit history, like how you pay your bills and when. The major credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.

Landlords, employers, and others use this information to make determinations on whether to let you rent an apartment or lend you money. However, you could suffer harm if there is inaccurate or incomplete information in your file. If a credit card collection agency is suing you for an old credit card debt, or if you are the victim of another FCRA violation, contact Mike Agruss Law today for a free consultation.

Can I Sue for FCRA Violations?

“Credit repair” companies attracted consumers with services or products that promised to repair their credit reports so that they can have a fresh start for their future and improve their credit scores. But these “quick fixes” were too good to be true and could not have possibly delivered what consumers needed to accomplish their debt legally. Despite consumers giving these “credit repair” organizations their money, negative credit information stayed on their credit reports for the legal time periods, which are typically 3 to 7 years. Additionally, debt collectors still contacted them, causing anxiety and humiliation.

The Federal Credit Repair Organizations Act is a consumer protection law enacted in September 1996. This statute prevents credit repair organizations from misleading or misrepresenting their services and engaging in fraudulent activities. The Act also prevents credit reporting agencies from sharing your credit score or other information without your authority. Inaccurate information in credit reports harms Americans, but you can sue to receive damages for harms suffered.

Under the FCRA, you have the right to accurate and fair credit file reporting. If a credit bureau, creditor, or another person or entity violates the FCRA, then you can sue. You have up to two years after the date that you discovered the FCRA violation but in some cases, you may have up to five years after the date of the violation to sue, so call Mike Agruss Law so we can determine the statute of limitations in your particular case.

Maximum Actual Damages in an FCRA Lawsuit

If your rights are violated under the FCRA, then you could potentially receive actual damages, punitive damages, and attorneys fees. How much and what type of damages you receive depends on whether the violation was intentional or due to negligence.

Upon proving that a CRA (credit reporting agency) or another entity violated your rights under the FCRA, you may be able to recover actual damages, which have no limit, or statutory damages between $100 and $1,000. In a situation where an individual violated your rights and lied to receive a copy of your credit report or used it fraudulently in a case of identity theft, then your damages will be greater than your actual damages or $1,000. Actual damages refer to provable financial losses that you suffered as a result of the violation.

Statutory Damages

In order to meet the standard of willful violation, your attorney must prove that the violation was reckless and that the person or entity doing the violation knew it. In some cases, there are multiple credit file report cases against a single defendant that could include hundreds of violations. Statutory damages can be provided when the same defendant makes multiple violations against many different victims.

Willful Violations of the FCRA

Unfortunately, there are actors and entities that violate the FCRA and violate your trust.

One type is a privacy violation. The credit bureaus can’t divulge your information without your authorization. If a new employer, landlord, or another entity that has no need for your credit information gets a hold of your credit report without your permission, then that is a violation. You do not need to provide your credit information to a university, to a supervisor in a job you’ve applied for, or to anyone that you were planning on going into business with.

Another violation is requesting credit information from a bureau without a permissible purpose. For example, a new potential employer needs written permission from you to check your credit and a valid reason to check it.

Your loan collector or credit card company should never supply incorrect or inaccurate information to a CRA, like overstating the total balance on your account or reporting on-time payments as late. At no point should they provide information that they know is untrue. Doing so is a violation of the FCRA.

An obvious mistake is when a CRA mixes information from two different people who have very similar information. If you have a very common name or if you are Jr. or Sr., and you live in the same area as someone else with similar information, then the bureaus are required to ensure that the information they provide is accurate. Inaccurate information, such as confusing you as someone with the same name in the same area, is a violation of your rights under the FCRA. If you have a common first name or the same name as someone else in your family, then you should check your credit report. Regularly checking your report can ensure that you’re not a victim of identity theft or an error.

What is an FCRA Dispute?

The FCRA identifies two different types of disputes: direct disputes and indirect disputes. A direct dispute is one where you dispute incorrect or inaccurate information on your credit report directly to the company that furnishes the information, usually a creditor. When you dispute wrong information to a CRA, such as Equifax, that is an indirect dispute.

Many people think that the best route is to file a direct dispute with the company that furnished it since, after all, they are the ones that provided the wrong information. But actually, an indirect dispute can accomplish more. First, by law, the credit bureau needs to conduct a reasonable investigation of the information that you are disputing. They must also notify the data furnisher of your dispute, which then makes them responsible for conducting a reasonable investigation of your claim. Lastly, if your efforts are in vain, then under the law, you can sue the credit bureaus and the data furnisher in federal court.

Because an indirect dispute allows you to file a lawsuit under the FCRA, and federal litigation may be required to get the inaccurate information removed from your report credit file, this is often recommended to make effective changes. When you come in for your free consultation, our FCRA attorneys can explain to you the process and the advantages and disadvantages of each type of decision in your specific case.

Most Common Credit Report Errors

The three most common credit report errors are due to inaccurate information or incomplete information in your credit file. They are:

  • Wrong address;
  • Misspelled name;
  • A completely wrong name.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, other errors you should look out for include incorrect date of last payment or the date that you opened the account, closed accounts that are reported as open or accounts that are incorrectly reported as late or delinquent. Another common mistake is when someone is reported as the owner of an account when they’re really just an authorized user.

If you find an error, then you can dispute credit report errors by gathering proof of the error and sending a letter to the credit bureau that has the wrong information. The major credit bureaus have an online dispute process that tells you what documentation you will need to verify your identity and the false information under federal law.

Resolving Credit Report Problems

Errors on your credit report can be devastating. You could be denied credit, unable to get a loan, and prevented from opening a new line of credit. Errors that are particularly concerning are those that suggest that you may be the victim of identity theft. You may be a victim of identity theft if a payment is reported late when you paid it on time or if there are derogatory marks in your credit history from over seven years ago.

In order to fix credit report errors quickly, you must contact the credit bureau and the organization that provided the inaccurate information to the bureau. Both of these entities are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. All three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and Transunion – accept online submissions.

Your dispute letter should also include contact information like your complete name, correct address, telephone number, and email address. If the bureau requests hard copies, then you should send copies of documents supporting your dispute, but never originals. You will have to indicate your reason for the dispute and upload your information, like your passport.

It could take anywhere from 30 to 45 days to complete the investigation of your dispute. If your dispute is denied, then you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

How Often are Credit Reports Wrong?

An estimated 34% of Americans have found at least one error on their credit reports. With over a third of Americans finding issues with their credit reports, the major credit reporting companies recommend that consumers check their credit reports for potential credit report errors, not just inaccurate contact information. Common credit report errors include:

  • Inaccurate credit limits;
  • Incorrect dates of payments or late payments;
  • Incorrect dates that accounts were opened or closed;
  • Incorrect balances on accounts.

We Protect Consumers

Since 2012, Mike Agruss Law has helped thousands of clients through the dispute process, and we are eager and ready to help you, too. We highly recommend that all of our clients get their free credit report to check for inaccuracies or wrong information. When you need help disputing credit report errors, we can provide you with the legal assistance you need.

Contact our consumer law offices today to schedule a free consultation regarding your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. We use this consultation to learn about what happened, explain the law to you in greater detail, and provide guidance on the next steps you should take and when you should take them. Upon determining that you have a valid case, we begin investigating and working hard to ensure success in your case. Facing a violation can feel overwhelming and like a major block in your life, but we can help you to move forward.

We are listening

We will respond to you at lightning speed. All of your information will be kept confidential.

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Submitted Comments

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9 months ago
I have been disputing inaccurate balances on my credit report. Experian, Equifax, Transunion and Regional Acceptance all have different balances that have caused late payments on my credit report. I would like to know more information on what steps I can take to get this resolved. Thanks
10 months ago
Looking to pay-off items on my credit reports, to the original debtors and not collection agencies (including Lexus-Nexus). Many of which are small credit card debt, installment loans and payday
11 months ago
I have disputed with the 3 major credit bureaus they had wrong information and reporting information without my written consent , they just keep disrespecting the law and it has cause lots of stress depression, hospitalization loss of career and reputation can’t get into a new home denial of credit ect please help or point me in the right direction thanks in advance
12 months ago
I have two old accounts from Barclays Bank and they closed the account in 2018 due to non-payment. The problem is, they keep re-dating the debt to re-age it and updating the balance. I am pretty sure this is a violation of the FCRA. I have also disputed this account MULTIPLE times with all the credit bureaus and Experian and TU refuse to even investigate it. Equifax removed both of them so I am keeping Equifax out of any litigation claims.! I know I am outside of the Statute of Limitations in Nevada attempting to collect the debt, but they continue to destroy my credit score by reaging this debt. If this is something you can help with I will send you the entire credit report from both Experian and TU.
12 months ago
I was sitting on my couch on a Sunday morning when I overheard them talking about Clever Credit Fix. I had to make more inquiry about how I could get this done without falling victim to a hacker again with the intention to seek advice regarding my late payment, negative items and how I could raise my credit score across my three credit bureaus reports. I got in contact with the hacker the following days and he replied quickly about how I could get everything done within the next 72 hours. I never knew I could live a happily live once more until I paid off my outstanding credit debt on my credit report and got approved for an auto loan deal worth over $178k within few weeks then I can finally testify that I got my credit score been boosted to 810 without no physical contact or any traces been found on my credit report activities. You can make contact with him anytime through C L E V E R C R E D I T F I X 1 @ G M A I L . C O M
12 months ago
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2 years ago
605 lending scammed me and won’t stop harassing me. I borrowed 600 paid it back in 1 month and they kept taking money out 1600.00 later. I disputes some with my bank but am in the hook for the rest. The company says it’s a tribal lending but it’s two guys in Canada.
2 years ago
My girlfriend and I have a contract with American First finance, and they are charging us 190% for interest? asking us can we pay over $5000 extra. They just asked well can you pay $5000 out of pocket now. I don’t know what to do about this. Its ridiculous how much they are over charging us.
2 years ago
I had a opportunity to review my credit report recently and I have discovered the the company spring oak capitol reported negative information to my file before even sending me a notification letter as required by the FCRA. the item has been reported on 29 October 2021 but I just received a debt validation letter today.12/27/2021. I only just received this letter because I has placed a call to spring oak capitol. this is clearly a violation of FDCPA & FCRA as this item was reported before I received notification of the debt and was afforded no time to dispute the debt. I can provide you with several documents to state my legal position if pessary.
Keenan Bedenfield
3 years ago
(1) I use CHIME app's "Credit Builder" secured credit card. They have reported to the credit bureau a late payment / current balance for a transaction that I had the funds available to cover the transaction. (2) I have always had auto-pay Enabled thus said Transaction would have been auto-paid with available funds by the close of the billing cycle in accordance with the Chime app Credit Builder agreement. (3) The statement history shows transactions were being auto-paid by the 23rd due dates(August for this transaction), or 1st of each following month but the Transaction in question was paid on the 2nd of Sept 2021 instead.
3 years ago
American Express violated 15USC1692d and harassed me with non stop phone calls over an alleged debt. They have also just violated 15usc1692e8. I sent American Express a debt validation letter which they received August 9th. And they failed to record my account on file as disputed when they updated my Experian credit report August 17th. They also failed to provide validation for alleged debt
3 years ago
1. I was a victim of identity theft. 2. A collection agency by the name of Resurgent Capital claimed that they closed the debt due to fraud, and the account would not be sold. Resurgent Capital either sold or released the debt that was caused by identity theft to another collection agency by the name of Apex Business Solutions which is to say the least could possibly be a violation of FCRA 615 (f), 15 U.S.C 1681 m(f) Prohibition on sale of Debt Caused by Identity Theft. 2. Apex Business Solutions is a collection agency trying to collect on a debt that was prohibited from being sold due to identity theft. Apex Business Solution could possibly be in violation of Section 807 of the FDCPA 1692e including but not limited to Falsely representing the character, amount, or legal status of the debt that they are trying to collect that is a result of identity theft, which should not be in their possession in the first place. Furthermore, Apex in their correspondence was attempting to get me to settle this debt by using some type of language that the debt will be discharged and reported to the I.R.S through a 1099-C filing for the 2021 tax year as and uncollectable debt. However IRS 2021 Instructions for Forms 1099A and 1099C state: Do not file form 1099C when fraudulent debt is canceled due to identity theft. Your help is needed in this situation. Thank you for your time and consideration
3 years ago
Working with a BAD DEBT COLLECTOR They have violated my credit report over and over again.....NOW I would like to file a law suit against them Can discuss in further details later
3 years ago
A debt collector placed a debt on my report without a notice sent to me only a demand for payment and before I had the chance to dispute furnished to my report. Couple days later