Fixing Credit Report Errors: Who Do You Send A Dispute Letter To?

Fixing Credit Report Errors:  Who Do You Send A Dispute Letter To?

credit report errorsYou have an error on your credit report.

You need it fixed.

Who do you send your dispute letter to in order to repair your credit report errors?

It makes sense to dispute directly with the company providing the false information to the credit reporting agencies, right?

It does but this will get you no-where.  Legally the furnisher of the information (unless a debt collector) has no obligation to do anything with your direct dispute.

But wait.

If you read the text of the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act), it allows you to dispute directly to the “furnisher” that furnishes the credit information to the credit bureaus.  (The furnisher is the debt collector, or Bank of America, Chase, etc).

Unfortunately, however, there is no private cause of action against a furnisher (i.e. you can’t sue) under the FCRA unless you first disputed it with the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, etc) and they properly notified the furnisher of your dispute.

“That’s crazy that you can’t sue the furnisher after directly notifying the furnisher — why is this law in place?”

It was a political solution.

To get the FCRA to where it is today, the big banks, credit card companies, etc. put into place this “loophole” to protect themselves.

Not fair but welcome to the world of political compromises….

“OK so I can’t sue under the FCRA — I’ll just sue under Alabama defamation law for putting false information out about me.”

In the past, we have filed lawsuits under strictly state law.

Now, however, the FCRA is not as favorable on taking this approach as some courts have ruled that all state law claims are preempted by the FCRA.

Preempted means the state law is knocked out by the federal law.

“Can I sue a debt collector directly under the FDCPA for false credit reporting or do I have to dispute first with the consumer reporting agencies?”

If we’re talking about a debt collector, there is a section of the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA) that states that if the furnisher knowingly or negligently furnishes false credit information to a credit reporting agency, then the FDCPA has been violated, so you can sue directly for this without disputing through the credit reporting agencies.

Here is the section of the FDCPA (1692e(8)):

(8) Communicating or threatening to communicate to any person credit information which is known or which should be known to be false, including the failure to communicate that a disputed debt is disputed.

We often sue debt collectors for false credit reporting even without doing a dispute under the FCRA.

But for anyone else, you need to dispute through the credit reporting agencies.

“So who do I send a dispute letter to if I am dealing with false credit reporting?”

Send it directly to the credit reporting agencies.

And send a copy of the letter directly to the furnisher.

Once the credit reporting agency has notified the furnisher, then your letter to the furnisher makes sure that they know the details of the dispute.

No goofy argument that “Well, Equifax didn’t tell us all the information” etc.

Your letter does that.

Here are a few examples of dispute letters to the bureaus here and here (sample letter on an account that is not yours).

And a general article on the substance of dispute letters.

Bottom line is when you are disputing credit report errors you need to give the credit reporting agencies enough information.

That way, they are without excuse when they refuse to fix your reports.

Same thing for the furnisher of the false information.

Call us at 205-879-2447 if you have any questions.

We’ll be glad to help you — or you can fill out our contact form by clicking the red button below.

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Talk to you soon!

John Watts

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