Wrestling with the credit bureaus: One consumer’s cautionary tale


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By Consumers Union on Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

We all know that our credit reports and credit scores can have a huge impact on our lives. They are used to determine whether we can get a loan, and at what price. They can be used to screen us as tenants or even job applicants. And if a credit report has a damaging error on it, that error can be tough to fix.

Really tough.

Red Tape Chronicles featured a story from Tom Tupper, a consumer who found an error on his credit report that the credit bureau refused to remove, even after he sent them a huge stack of evidence to prove that it had made a mistake. TransUnion had listed that Tupper was late on a car loan, but Tupper had the records – including copies of checks, account statements and payoff statements – showing he was fully paid up and on time. He disputed the error and produced the documents, only to be told that his request was denied:

“It is really quite appalling when you really think about it,” Tupper said. “When I gave that proof to TU and demanded they remove the incorrect entry, they basically ignored me and sided with the data furnisher… So here is the rub: What’s to stop anyone from reporting anything derogatory about you to a (credit bureau)?”

Eventually, Tupper resolved the problem by going to the lender that had furnished the data to TransUnion and had the lender fix the error. Consumers now have the right to go straight to the furnisher to fix an error – a little-known right that was implemented by the federal government in 2009.

Unfortunately, Tupper’s story is not uncommon. Credit reports can have substantial errors, and those errors can harm your credit score and cause you to be wrongfully denied credit or be offered credit on worse terms. (This is yet another reason why we need a strong, fully-functioning CFPB – the CFPB will have the authority to examine the credit bureaus’ practices, but it needs a permanent director before it can begin its nonbank supervision program. Which is being blocked by a group of Senators.)
Consumers should check their credit scores annually for errors. You can check it for free by going to AnnualCreditReport.com/a>. If you do find and error use these tips to help you fix it.

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