Although it seems like creditors and the credit bureaus seem like they can do whatever they want when your credit report is concerned, you have robust protections under the law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act is intended to ensure that your credit report is accurate and transparent. You are not just powerless to take what you are given. You can fight back if creditors break the law.
Large companies often do not respect individual consumers and their rights. You can try to explain, persuade, cajole and even beg, and these companies do not care. However, they must take notice when you take legal action with an aggressive and experienced attorney. When you file a lawsuit, you can not only have your voice heard, but you can also get financial compensation when the defendant has broken the law.
How the Fair Credit Reporting Act Protects You
The FCRA governs what can go on your credit report and how it can be used. You also have the legal right to obtain your credit report from the three major bureaus. The law recognizes that your credit is often your lifeblood, and any damage to your credit can cause you significant emotional and financial harm.
Here are some of the legal prohibitions and requirements of the FCRA:
- Furnishing or reporting old information
- Furnishing or reporting wrong information (for example, either the amount of the debt or that you did not pay on time)
- Failure to file the necessary legal procedures when you are disputing a debt
- Violating your privacy by releasing your credit information to entities that did not have a legal right to it
- Someone else requests your credit report for an impermissible purpose
- A credit bureau fails to give you notices required by law
- Mixing up your information with that of someone else
Who Can Be Sued Under the FCRA
FCRA lawsuits are either filed individually or on a class action basis. Some individual plaintiffs have recovered thousands of dollars when creditors or credit bureaus have violated their legal rights.
Here are examples of different defendants who have been sued for allegedly violating the FCRA:
- Creditors who have pulled credit reports without a legitimate business need
- Employers who pull your credit report without your permission
- Credit bureaus who do not allow you the appropriate chance to dispute information on your credit report
- Creditors who wrongfully report accounts as unpaid or late
Your Damages in an FCRA Case
The damages that you can receive under the FCRA reflect what you may go through when your credit has been unfairly damaged or misused. FCRA damages include:
- Economic damages that reflect the actual value of the harm to you. For example, you could be denied a loan because of wrong information and incur costs because you had expected to receive the loan.
- Non-economic damages that compensate you for the anxiety and distress that you may suffer from having the credit that you have worked so hard to build ruined by an illegal act.
- Statutory damages of up to $1,000 per violation
Depending on the violation, you may even be awarded punitive damages. Courts may try to send a message to the defendant when their conduct is particularly awful.