“Can I hold a debt collector responsible for putting false information on my credit reports especially when it lowers my credit score?”

“Can I hold a debt collector responsible for putting false information on my credit report especially when it lowers my credit score?”


Especially when it is from a debt collector who has damaged your credit reports and scores.

You have some options on how to fix this problem and hold the debt collector responsible.

Use the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to fix your credit report

Any company, including a debt collector, must only report correct (accurate) information on your credit reports.

If the debt collector is reporting false information, you can do a dispute under the FCRA directly to the credit reporting agencies.

If the false information is not fixed then you can sue under the FCRA.

Use the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to fix false information put on your reports by debt collectors.

If a debt collector puts false information on your credit report and the collection agency knows the information is false, or should know, then this violates the FDCPA and you can sue immediately without disputing through the credit reporting agencies as described above.

Here are some examples.

First example.

Midland Funding, a debt buyer, offers to settle a debt of $5,000 for $3,000.  You agree and pay the $3,000.

How much do you owe?

Nothing as you settled the debt.

But Midland Funding reports on your credit reports that you owe $2,000.

This is false credit reporting and Midland knows it.

This violates the FDCPA.

Second example.

LVNV, another well known debt buyer, sues you in Small Claims court in Alabama.

You answer the lawsuit and win your trial.

This means you do not owe the debt.

But LVNV does not remove the account from your reports.

This violates the FDCPA as LVNV knows you do not owe the debt and if you don’t owe the debt, you can’t have it on your credit report.

Third example.

Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA) credit reports that you owe $2,500 on an old credit card account.  You tell PRA this is not your debt and that it is from identity theft.

PRA has this information but chooses to ignore you and claims “We bought the debt as you owing on it and so you owe on it.”

You sue PRA because it knows, or should know, that this is identity theft.  It has your ID theft affidavit, police report, etc. but simply chooses to ignore them.

PRA chooses to ignore this information but it can’t choose to ignore the consequences.

“So what should I do if I have false information on my credit report from a debt collector?”

First ask yourself if the debt collector knows or should know this is false information.

If so, then you can sue under the FDCPA.

If it doesn’t know, then consider sending information to the debt collector so it will have no excuse if it is truly innocent right now.

We often recommend doing this in the context of a dispute under the FCRA to the credit reporting agencies also — you simply copy the debt collector on your dispute letter.

Third, if the debt collector ignores your FCRA letter, then sue under the FCRA and FDCPA.

When you file a valid lawsuit in federal court, the collection agencies tend to quickly delete the false information so that they can claim they “stopped the bleeding” — it also shows the information was wrong and it took a federal court lawsuit to get the agency to do the right thing…

Contact Us.

If you live in Alabama and you think you might have a case against a debt collector for false credit reporting, give us a call at 205-879-2447 and you will speak to a human being — not our voicemail (unless you call after hours) — and we can find out about your situation and set up a call or in person meeting.

Or even a video chat meeting to go over your options.

Or you are always welcome to fill out our contact form and we will get right back with you.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

-John G. Watts


  1. sue heller says:

    from nevada–does the statute of limitations start over when an old debt (lawsuit against me that was dismissed in court with prejudice-a long time ago)gets reported to the irs 7 or 8 years later? (that’d be a good thing for me, I never got around to suing them-if I did, does the fdcpa or fcra,etc cover this?) Also, are you still doing podcasts? suggestions for: 1099s to the irs on old debts that were in court dismissed w/ prejudice; 1099s to the irs by a debt collector who re-aged a debt on the credit report; and last-debt collectors various names, lawsuits against, ftc/attorney generals thoughts, and most important-if you can sue a credit reporting agency, why not the irs? (I don’t think I want to, but if the irs just takes 1099s that various debt collectors issue-on old debts, that have had a judgement-why should it be on the consumers shoulders to prove them wrong (debt collector)–instead of the irs examing/verifying what they get from debt collecors-especially the questionable ones, who’ve been in the news,etc. Sorry, think I’m done ranting. Well, thanks for reading anyway, sue (are you still doing podcasts?)

    • John Watts says:


      Thanks for your comment.

      We haven’t started a podcast yet — on my list! — but still doing our newsletter and videos.

      On 1099 issue — lots of problems in this area. I think if you won your case, there should be no 1099. Were you living in Nevada or some other state when you won your case?

      When in doubt, always send a certified letter to the company asking why they did this?

      Can’t really sue the IRS — nice immunity the government has.

      Thanks for good ideas for articles/videos/podcasts — we will get started on that soon.

      Thanks again for your comment — hope you are doing well.

      John Watts

      • Dane Elder says:

        You are correct that there is an immunity for the IRS, but I have since learned that immunity is not absolute for any federal employees. Each IRS agent has a number that is listed on the correspondence. If you find out the employee behind the number, or use a john doe strategy, you might find out whether or not they followed their own IRM. I had that happen with a 1099 that never reached me, but the IRS levied a 26000 dollar tax bill that they wanted me to pay. I saved the correspondence and sent in a fax, and asked for a CDP hearing. They actually wrongfully denied, so then I got the taxpayer advocate and my senator involved. I will not have to pay that bill.

  2. Jerry Barger says:

    A company i have a vehicle financed with has charged off and sold my account but not to a collection agency. I still have the vehicle it was financed with First Main and was sold to First Main Financial. The latter company is showing on my Transunion report that I have filed chapter 13 bankruptcy which has dropped my credit score. I have never filed for bankruptcy not intend to. What are they trying to do. This company knows I have not filed bankruptcy they have reported false information.

    • John Watts says:


      Sorry you are dealing with this.

      Do you have a co-signer on the loan? Did that person file a chapter 13?

      I would suggest disputing this through the credit reporting agencies. You know it is on your TransUnion — I would check Equifax and Experian. Normally we see stuff on all 3.

      If you live in Alabama feel free to call us at 205-879-2447.

      Here is an article that might help you with disputing — the basic idea is to identify the false information, demand from the credit reporting agencies that they delete it, and copy your letter to First Main Financial or whoever is putting the false reporting on your reports.

      Send everything by certified mail.
      Best wishes!

      John Watts

  3. Jimmy says:

    State of Florida falsely accused that I’m behind on child support ( but proven not behind) and reports on my credit reports. Can I sue?

    • John Watts says:


      Ultimately you’ll need a Florida lawyer but let me give you some thoughts for when you talk to a Florida consumer protection lawyer.

      To answer your question, normally you must dispute through the credit reporting agencies before you can consider suing a furnisher of credit reporting info. Florida would be a “furnisher” as they have been furnishing the info about child support to the credit reporting agencies.

      (It is different when dealing with a debt collector — we can use the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).

      Do keep in mind there may be some Florida law that you can use — I’m only talking about the Fair Credit Reporting Act below.

      1. Are you actually behind? Sounds like you are not but if you are, then the reporting will be accurate.

      2. But assuming you are not behind as much as they say, are you behind at all? How does that compare to what is being reported?

      3. If you are completely current, then is there something you can get to prove this? A print out from court or from the department that handles child support? Or do you have to rely on your own records?

      4. Whatever proof you have, can you take this to court to have the court rule that you are current on your child support obligations?

      5. If you can get a court to bless it, that’s the best. Because then you can take that order to the credit reporting agencies and have them fix your report.

      6. If you cannot get a court to say you are current, then take whatever proof you have (bank statements, etc) and send that to the credit reporting agencies and to Florida (whichever department does the credit reporting) and ask that it be fixed. If it is, great. If not, then you may be able to sue under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).

      Again, these are simply some suggestions/thoughts for you as you get with a Florida consumer protection lawyer.

      Sorry you are having to deal with this — bad enough to have negative credit reporting but when it is done falsely that is incredibly frustrating.

      Hope you can get this fixed ASAP!

      John Watts

  4. Robert Bentley says:

    Upon moving to Florida several years ago, I applied for and was turned down for a Drivers license, I held a perfect record DL from Washington state since 1995. I was told that there was an interstate suspension naming me as having a DL suspended in Pennsylvania back around 1981. Upon inquiring about this to Penn’s Dept. of Transportation, I was informed that the suspension had been entered from Blair county,PA due to a lien. Blair records showed a lien entered back in 1981 apparently form an auto accident. I have never been a resident of PA, nor have I ever been informed of any suit or lien entered against me.
    Both my DL record and my credit rating have been perfect over all these years.
    Appealing to Florida DL bureau, I was told their hands ere tied by law as they
    are restricted by this interstate DL suspension listing. I now badly need a DL as a Florida resident as I am elderly(80) with COPD and require frequent medical care and rehab, requiring that I can drive. Should I file a false ID complaint of some kind? I can hardly get this lien undone after some 36 years. what can I do?
    The lien appear s to be based on car damage loss, etc. but no mention of any drivers violations.

    • John Watts says:


      I’m thinking you need to start with Florida and then also go back to PA to see about fixing this. See if a consumer protection lawyer in FL can help you — although they may tell you that you need to get a PA lawyer.

      I’m just not sure how the rules work in PA and FL regarding driver license issues.

      Best wishes and sorry I can’t help you but I don’t practice in FL or PA.

      John Watts

  5. Joseph C Ryan says:

    My name is Joseph C (or Crawford) Ryan and Equifax continues, after three disputes, to show my identification information as: Joseph Crawford Ryan, Jr. I am not a Jr as my father’s name was Joseph Marion Ryan. Do I have any options to get my identification the same on Equifax as the other two, Experian & TransUnion, as: Joseph C Ryan?

    • John Watts says:


      I understand this can be frustrating and YES you can get this fixed.

      The simple answer is you make sure your disputes to Experian gave them more than enough evidence to fix this.

      Experian will take any argument — any opportunity — no matter how absurd — to justify its position.

      So you have to make sure you left them “no wiggle room” to squirm out of this.

      If your disputes were solid, then you may need to sue Experian to get them to fix this. They should fix it, pay you and pay your lawyer so that it costs you no out of pocket money to fix this.

      If perhaps there is some absurd argument they can make, then dispute again. Give them overwhelming evidence and tell them this is their last chance.

      Call us if you live in Alabama — 205-879-2447 — if you are outside of Alabama get with a consumer protection lawyer who does this type of work in your state.

      You can get this fixed.

      Have a good one and let us know if we can help.

      John Watts

  6. Carrina says:

    My husband had a dept with the status of closed/charged off on his credit report. We did a conference call with the collection agency to confirm the status of the debt for our mortgage finance company. The collection agency has since changed the status to collections/charge off with a payment plan listed. However, no payment plan was ever established. Would this be considered falsified information on the credit report?

    • John Watts says:


      So all you did was confirm the status? Did not make any agreement to pay on the collection account?

      And now the collection account says “payment plan”?

      First thing is I would ask your mortgage broker/professional if this affects your ability to get a loan. I assume you are in the process of getting a mortgage loan.

      If it does NOT affect you, then I would probably leave it alone.

      But if it DOES in ANY way affect you, then I would take action.

      If you are in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447. If outside AL, get with a consumer protection attorney.

      Best wishes and hope all goes smoothly on the loan application.

      John Watts

  7. Gina says:

    I had renewed an apartment rental lease and shortly thereafter my daughter’s roommate took a job in another state. She went into the leasing office, that has a high turnover rate, and asked if we had any options. Sometimes they will work with you if you have been a good tenant, which we were. They said all we had to do was provide 60 days notice. I already had other people willing to either share with her or move in if that was the only option. We were also told that they could not try to rent out the place wile she was still in it. So we gave more than 60 days notice and vacated. A few weeks later I was slapped with a bill of well over $2,000. All they had to say about the leasing staff misinformation was sorry for the inconvenience. They would not acknowledge any accountability or wrong doing. I asked for the matter to be escalated to a supervisor. I was ignored many times. I finally went to the better business bureau to get a reply. I got a reply with yet a totally different move out procedure and different amount due. Still over $1500 this time. They do not know what they are doing at all. I responded to that once again with my detailed story and asked for manager . I was ignored for weeks on end. Now I get an email from the first girl saying I have a week to submit payment since it has been so long. I explained I have heard nothing from them for weeks and that they keep ignoring my request to escalate. I asked her to please respond in a timely manner. Now I have heard nothing yet again. I have tried contacting corporate via their website twice to file a complaint . NO REPLY. I even emailed the CEO. No reply. Can they run my credit? I am more concerned with my daughter’s since I added her to she could start building her own. We did everything we were told to do to vacate and thought we were doing it right.

    • John Watts says:


      This will depend on exactly what the contract says and what the law of your state says. My answers below are simply general thoughts based on Alabama law but even these thoughts have to be compared to the exact language of the contract so get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state.

      Was the mention of 60 days in writing or simply verbal?

      What does the contract say about vacating? About any changes to the contract?

      When you went through the BBB, you said you received a different move out procedure from them. Does that match what the contract says or is it different?

      Have you written to them and sent it by certified mail? Regular mail is often ignored. But certified mail or overnight mail is seen as more serious and they can’t lie and say they never received it.

      Typically they can pull credit for collection purposes so you need to keep an eye on your credit. Also keep an eye out for anything appearing on your credit — it could be by the apartment place or by a collection agency such as Rental Recovery or Hunter Warfield — these are two common collection agencies who collect apartment debt.

      Is this only in your name or your daughter’s name also? If in her name also, she needs to check her credit reports also.

      Sorry guys are going through this — I know it is incredibly frustrating.

      Do get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state — if you are in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts

  8. David says:

    I am being taken to small claims court by a loan company because I refuse to continue paying on the loan until they fix the late payments reported to my credit. (I have been putting the payments in a separate account, so the money is available)

    I have made every payment on time for 6 months and I went to purchase a vehicle and they have it on my credit report that I have been 90 days past due on my loan which dropped my score 150 pts. I have proof of every payment made and they are saying because of a $40 late fee, the late payment will continue to roll over.

    Can I counter sue the loan company when we go to small claims court?

    • John Watts says:


      This situation depends on several factors.

      First, is this a debt collector who is suing you or the original creditor? I assume original creditor. So the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) would not apply.

      This means you go under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act). Under the FCRA, you have to do a dispute first through the credit reporting agencies before you can sue under the law.

      Second, you have to make sure the credit reporting is false.

      Third, if the dispute does not fix the problem, then you could counter claim but we never do this. If we have a legitimate case, we bring that in a separate action. Otherwise, if you counterclaim in Small Claims court in Alabama, you are normally limited to $6,000 at most in damages.

      Bottom line is I would get with a lawyer to help you make sure you know which laws apply (FDCPA or FCRA), make sure the credit reporting is false, dispute it properly, and then either counter sue or bring a separate lawsuit.

      Best wishes on this

      John Watts

  9. Orlando says:

    I have a question.. dept of child services is and has been reporting negative and wrongful information.ation to.the credit bureau s that has inpacted my credit score ..every month for the past 4 years now I have paid my child support on time since I have become aware of my child support ! Yet they make a derogatory remark stating I haven’t paid my child support every month bc i owe child support ! Is that right or can I sue! This is greatly effecting my child support ..also I am not from alabama im from louisiana and if I have a case cause you please redirect me to a good attorney ? Im in the lrocess of trging to buy a house but these negatives on my credit report keep impacting my score causing it to drop

    • John Watts says:


      I don’t know of anyone in Lousiana right now to send you to but you can search for “consumer protection lawyer Louisiana” and that should get you started.

      Do look carefully at your reports and see if they are accurate or not.

      Here’s what I mean.

      I know since you found out you have been paying but are you late for the time before you knew? I’m not a family law lawyer but I understand sometimes an order is entered saying you need to pay $750 a month.

      You find out 12 months later and start paying.

      But technically you are late unless you have paid off the first 12 months and you have made every payment since then.

      So take a look at it with a consumer protection lawyer in your state.

      I know this is incredibly frustrating as it can affect you buying a house — hope you can get it resolved ASAP.

      John Watts

  10. Shannelle says:

    In March 2018 I applied for a credit-builder/secured loan in an attempt to rebuild my credit after a bankruptcy in 2016. The loan appeared on my credit report in April with an increase in my score. May the bank reported that the loan was being paid by a chapter 13 wage earner on Transunion and was closed and bankruptcy on Equifax. After this my score went down. I called the bank which said it was a mistake and would be corrected. After 2 weeks it continued to show negatively. I then disputed the inaccuracy through Transunion. Trans union stated that the bank replied saying that the account was being paid through bankruptcy. I called the bank and they stated they updated the correct information. The loan payments I pay on time through my checking account. I just need to know what my next step is.

    • John Watts says:


      Did you dispute it with Experian and Equifax also or only Transunion?

      You may have the right to sue Transunion and/or the bank that issued the loan since you disputed it. We would need to look at your dispute and see what happened.

      I definitely suggest you get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state — if you are in Alabama call us at 205-879-2447 and ask to speak to Carolyn. Tell her we have chatted online and I wanted to see the credit reports, your dispute letter, and the response from Transunion (called the “results of investigation”).


      John Watts

  11. Samir says:

    I’ve been battling with “US DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION” for well over a year now. They claim that I owe them for student loans from an account that been getting reported negative for 8yrs now. So in return i asked them through a certified mailed letter to send me all the proof that i owe this debt. After 35 business/working days I contacted all three bureaus by sending them a copy of the letter i sent to the “So called debtors” as well as my certified receipt. Just yesterday I’ve noticed under my Equifax account that one of the two student loans were removed and the other for the first time in 8yrs magically reported a $10 payment/decrease. The debtors done something fraudulent because they seen Equifax deleted one of the accounts. Its obvious. In addition, i contacted Trans Union to ask them their status and they told me I still owe the debt becasue no matter if they (the debtors) didn’t respond to my dispute letter within 30 business days. They say that doesn’t matter they have no time frame. I then told them Equifax deleted one of the account shouldn’t you guys see what they see? They told me NO! Can you tell me my next steps and do i have a FDCPA case? Thanks In advance!

    • John Watts says:


      It can be incredibly frustrating when dealing with federal student loans which I assume is what you have.

      And it sounds like a debt collector (there are about a dozen who do work for US Dept of Educ) is who has this account.

      Just because they don’t respond to your dispute letter doesn’t mean the collector then has to delete the account off of your reports.

      There are a bunch of factors at play here — I would get with an experienced FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) and (FCRA Fair Credit Reporting Act)lawyer in your state to help you sort through this.

      It gets tricky with federal student loans but if you can show you don’t owe it and/or there is false credit reporting, you’ll have a chance to do some good stuff.

      Best wishes

      John Watts

  12. January Simpson says:

    My husband had an old debt with a 1st deliquency of Jan.2016. the original creditor sold it to a debt collector. The debt collector sent us a letter stating they were now the creditor. They reported the debt in his credit report. We were shocked when his score went down 80 points. Turns out the account is not listed as a collections account, but an installation loan, currently past due 120 days. It also shows monthly payments due. They have two separate accounts as well, one with a balance of $119, the other $170; but reporting amounts such as ,$54 monthly payments due. I disputed with them first through the credit agencies and it came back no change and as accurate. I disputed directly with the credit reporting agencies and today, they finally listed the original creditor and that’s it. So the collection company is still reporting as an installation loan owed to them with monthly payments though I never entered any loan agreement with them. I disputed it with the consumer agency and the company response was that they were not the original creditor. So are they legally allowed to list on his credit report it’s an open account currently past due, and not as a collections account? If they are not, they are knowingly doing so because of my many disputes.

    • John Watts says:


      This sounds like some odd reporting to me.

      Definitely get with an FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) and FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) lawyer in your state.

      Looks like the collector is doing some weird things with reporting. Usually, when the collectors try to be cute like this, they end up going over the line and can be sued.

      I can’t tell you if they have done that here without seeing the reports and dispute letters but it certainly is suspicious.

      If you are in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts

  13. Ryan Smith says:

    Me and my 26 yr old daughter paid cash for dental work done. Two weeks later the work done on her messed up . They said they would fix it. Her mother took her in and they did work I didn’t know about or agree to. Then sent me a 1000 dollar bill. Now it’s turned over to a collection agency and I lose 20 points on my credit score. What are my options? I never agreed to the extra work done.

    • John Watts says:


      I’m a bit confused on how your daughter who is an adult had work done and that got put on your credit report? Is she your dependent?

      Did she or her mother (I assume maybe your ex?) tell the dentist that you agreed to pay for the work?

      Who is the collection agency?

      I would definitely check this out to see your options. If you are in Alabama call us at 205-879-2447 — if out of Alabama check here https://www.consumeradvocates.org/find-an-attorney to help you in your search for a lawyer.


      John Watts

  14. John M Adams says:

    I have been working on increasing my Credit scores during the past few years.I have most of my bills taken out of my Bank Account each month. In August 2018 I received a letter from Chase Auto stating they were going to re-po my car. I have been letting Chase take my payments every month on the 28 of each month. So I called Chase thinking they made a mistake. When I first spoke to Chase they told me their system for direct payments failed and they missed two months. I did not realize the payments did not come out of my account.They wanted$900.00 now. I informed them I did not the $900 but would ok for them to add the two payment to the backside of the loan. They refused and back charged me late fees and turned it into Credit Companies. I began looking into how this happen and was able to get into my on line account before they changed the information. Now they listed the missed payments as me closing the direct payment account. I have sent Chase a letter asing them to explain what happen. I also have been paying extra money to pay off the two missed months.Not understanding why I was charged a very high interest rate when I finance. I was also informed by my bank that they would not give me a overdraft protection due to the late payments. Do I have a case to sue and should I use the local court or Federal Court. Please let me know what I can do to stop Chase

    • John Watts says:


      Definitely need to talk to attorney in your state about this.

      On the one hand — when we do autodraft it is on us to make sure the drafts go through.

      On the other hand — if Chase is claiming you closed the account and that’s not right, then this may give you some leverage.

      As far as the financing, nothing I see to do there (at least if you are in Alabama) as you agreed to the rate.

      I don’t know if you have a case or not but suggest getting with a lawyer. In Alabama, you will not have many options that I see but if you are in another state you may have some better laws to help you.

      Best wishes

      John Watts

  15. Katherine Perry says:


    • John Watts says:


      Sounds like you can prove you did not open the account. I’m assuming no one opened it on your behalf or with your knowledge?

      Assuming all the above, then get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state (we can help you if you are in Alabama — 205-879-2447) and see what your options are under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) and if it is a debt collector the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).

      Wishing you the best

      John Watts

  16. Dave McEvoy says:

    I recently disputed my credit report with 7 creditors, but the bureaus did not remove anything. The creditors did not validate the debt at all with what is required by law. What statutes can I sue the bureaus in court?

    • John Watts says:


      To sue the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, Transunion, etc) you use the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). (There could be a state law in your state that applies — need to check with lawyer in your state). That’s what we use in Alabama.

      Now you do want to make sure that you have a legitimate claim — that these accounts are actually inaccurate.

      While some judges may do things differently, the federal judges we are in front of are focused on whether the accounts/tradelines are correct or not.

      So I suggest getting with a lawyer who is experienced in FCRA in your state to look over this. Should not cost you any money for a lawyer in your state to review your case and if you hire the lawyer, the lawyer gets paid out of a settlement. So as long as the lawyer can get more money for you than you could on your own (i.e. more than the fee), then it makes economic sense to hire a lawyer.

      Of course, you also have to consider the time and comfort level of either doing it on your own or hiring a lawyer you trust.

      Best wishes

      John Watts

  17. James says:

    Have a question regarding false information on my account . Loved with an ex partner in an apartment in 2014 . He unfortunately chose to leave before the lease was up and give a notice . Apartment complex claims the notice wasn’t sufficient and tacked him with several fees as well as a large collection account . I never signed on this lease and I never gave any information regarding a credit check ,credit reference , or permission to use my social to obtain a credit report . I never gave them my social as I was not on the lease . Due to me not being on the lease , I wasn’t allowed to make our monthly payments therefore , I signed an affidavit stating I wasn’t on the lease but was permitted to make the lease payments via check , debit etc ..

    Fast forward years later , I am no longer with my ex. He has since filed bankruptcy which included the collection account . This agency has since , somehow obtained my social and are reporting I owe this balance on this account . $3700 worth . Severely impacted credit score as well as being permitted to obtain financing elsewhere .

    I have worked with a company called MSI credit to help remove some other personal things On my credit but they are absolutely unable to remove this for some reason .

    The agency responded with the paperwork and the original lease documents that DONT HAVE MY NAME ON THEM .. and have still yet to remove . What do I do ?

    • John Watts says:


      At least in Alabama (I don’t know where you live) this would not be legal. If you were not on the lease, this sounds like false credit reporting by this agency.

      I would look at two options.

      First, dispute it through the credit reporting agencies and copy the collector. Explain in detail why you do not owe this debt and include the paperwork that does not show your name. Send it all by certified mail and keep signed copy.

      Second, you could sue the collector under the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) for violating Section 1692e(8) — false credit reporting. (See this video where we discuss this part and other parts of Section 1692e — https://youtu.be/ABG8Bk5m6fw

      If you are in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447 thanks and best wishes!!


  18. Richard says:

    This has been very informative and I tha knyou for devoting time to educate the consumer. My question is would one consider the same for a credit card company reporting information that is incorrect after they have been made aware of it? More specifically I alerted them to a card issued in my name, a case of identity theft they assured me the card was shut down and that they would correct the information reported after their investigation 30 days later the user goes over the limit causing the utilization rate to go up subsequently dropping my score significantly another call to the issuer and it’s the same with a 30 to 90 day investigation to report the error. Can one sue under these conditions?

    • John Watts says:


      Thank you for your kind words.

      Unfortunately you have much more limited rights with an original creditor in this sense:

      You must dispute through the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union, etc) to be able to sue the credit card company under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).

      You may not be able to file state law claims against the “furnisher” — in this case the credit card company. So they furnish info to the credit reporting agencies.

      The argument they use if you sue under state law (defamation, etc) is that those claims are “pre-empted” by the FCRA.

      OK, so sue under the FCRA.

      But you can’t unless you dispute it first.

      This was a political compromise that defies logic.

      Naturally good folks do what you did — they go to the source. The credit card company. But that company believes it has “immunity” from suit unless you go to the credit reporting agencies.

      Here’s what I suggest for you:

      1. Get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state who is experienced with disputing ID theft accounts and experienced suing under the FCRA. There should be no charge to help you dispute — the way we make our money is by suing the bad guys. We get paid out of the total settlement or the judge awards us fees payable by the credit card company.

      2. Follow the advice of the lawyer above which should be something like this — dispute through the credit reporting agencies using an ID theft affidavit. Include whatever correspondence you received from the credit card company. You can also put in facts like who you called, what they said, etc. at the credit card company. Point out this has impacted your score etc.

      3. If it gets deleted, then great.

      4. If not deleted, then sue at least the furnisher (credit card company) and likely also the credit reporting agencies under the FCRA and any state law claims you have also.

      Hope this helps.

      If you are outside of AL try this to find someone — https://www.consumeradvocates.org/find-an-attorney.

      If you are in Alabama feel free to call us and we’ll help you — 205-879-2447 or fill out our contact form and we’ll get right back with you.

      Thanks and best wishes!!

      John Watts

      PS — I know this is annoying to deal with but I will say this. ID theft of this type is very easy to fix — either they fix with the dispute or they fix after you sue them and pay you and your lawyers money. But it does get fixed one way or the other in my experience.

  19. Eugene K. says:


    I am in the process of submitting 2 credit dispute letters. One to the Vendor/creditor which is Bank of America and the other to the credit bureau which I believe has my information wrongly reported which damaged my credit score for over 3 years and counting. I didn’t know this until the beginning of last year or so when I try to buy some real estate and credit was pulled.

    I got the report and it was saying credit past due alluding to the fact that I didn’t pay my credit card off. I was pissed off because I had fully paid in 2016 this credit card after being sent to charge off in late 2015 (without me knowing mind you). Amount was $209. I asked them for a letter showing that I paid at the time of said payment in case they wouldn’t end up their end of the bargain. I’m good with dispute letters but I felt I had up y game and purchased a good dispute letter form a law website which references all these laws mentioned here and a lot more to show that I mean business.

    Here are my questions:

    1. Is it ethical or normal for a bank to not give you a deletion letter upon request and after paying your dues and what would you recommend on doing? They claim they can’t do that as financial institution (spoke to a manager back in 2016) but I have had 2 deletion letters from 2 different collection agencies which had boosted my credit significantly.

    2. What are my chances of getting my paid charge off information deleted since they made a big mistake for a longtime?

    • John Watts says:


      If you did not get an agreement before paying it off that bank would delete, you can’t make them give this to you now. Most banks will not do a “pay for delete” which is different than collection agencies. Some of them will do it as you have found.

      If you have disputed an error through the credit reporting agencies and it is NOT fixed, then hire a consumer protection lawyer to sue the bank under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) for money damages. And as a term of the settlement, make them delete it.

      A good experienced FCRA lawyer in your state will not charge you any money up front. Instead, we get paid from the bad guys we sue. If a lawyer charges you a fee up front to do this, that should be a red flag to you.

      Hope that helps and best wishes

      John Watts

  20. Richard says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond.

  21. Daniel T. says:

    A friend of mine had an auto loan with statewide auto lending that was sold to a different financial institution (nevada west financial). Statewide is still reporting an open auto loan and know nevada west financial is also reporting that same auto loan on his credit report giving him 2 open autos. He contacted statewide about 6 months back to inform them and they have yet to report that loan as closed. He is trying to trade in his vehicle, but because he shows 2 open auto loan, he is not getting qualified for a new loan. What would you recommend the best course of action for him to take to have statewide report their loan as closed?

    • John Watts says:


      If your friend was in Alabama I would dispute the Statewide if the information it is reporting is not accurate or incomplete. In a way those are one and the same but it can be helpful to think about them as being too separate items.

      He needs to dispute through the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, Innovis, etc) and hopefully, it gets fixed ASAP. If not, then get with a consumer lawyer in your state to get some help with this. (I don’t know if you have any good state laws there but the above is an option to check out).

      Best wishes!


  22. Adam says:

    Fellow attorney from Missouri here.

    Do you have any thoughts regarding potential private actions against entities who do not fall under the FDCPA’s definition of a “debt collector” – i.e. a loan servicer who handled the debt prior to default and/or collects incidental to a bona fide fiduciary duty to the U.S. Dept. of Edu?

    In our case, we have disputed a debt with both the collecting entity and the credit report agencies. The only validation of the debt provided at this point is an endorsement page with our client’s name typed into the signature line. The collecting entity has not been very helpful – no responsive communications, repeatedly contacting the client despite knowing he is represented by counsel, and of course, continuing to report the debt as delinquent. The CRA investigation reports also have not been very informative – it seems they just asked the collecting entity to confirm the debt.

    Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

    • John Watts says:


      Thanks for your comment.

      Few thoughts for you:

      1. Missouri may have a state version of the FDCPA or an unfair deceptive practices act that you can use. We don’t in AL so we have to use things like invasion of privacy. Here is our case law:

      The court has previously recognized the right of a creditor to take reasonable action to pursue a debtor and collect a debt. Norris v. Moskin Stores, Inc., 272 Ala. at 174, 132 So.2d at 323. Accord, Hart v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 437 So.2d 1255 (Ala.1983). Where the creditor takes actions which exceed the bounds of reasonableness, however, the debtor has an 866*866 action against the creditor for injuries suffered.

      (Google Scholar — https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=7359496872380563589&q=invasion+of+privacy+unfair+debt+collection&hl=en&as_sdt=4,1)

      Second, is the debt reporting falsely? If not, then I don’t think you have anything under FCRA. Even if they are not doing much to investigate. BUT if the info is wrong, then suing under the FCRA is normally a great idea. You want to make sure your letters tell everyone enough so that it should have been fixed. Then it may be you see the CRAs (if they could have seen it is false) and the furnisher/servicer or maybe you just sue the furnisher.

      I’m happy to chat with you — if you want to talk email me at john [at] wattsherring.com and we can set up a time to chat to go through this.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts

  23. Miles J Honan says:

    I had an apartment complex that evicted me claim $7000 extra towards the credit agencies. We disputed it and with success they cancelled the claim and took it off our credit. It was on there for nearly 2 years and now my girlfriend, my mother and I have bad credit from that situation. Can i sue the debt collector and or the apartments lawyer for damaging our credit the past few years?

  24. rosa trento says:

    I have a question. I got reported 5 times about a delinquent student loan but its not mine. I contacted that company last month and they agreed they had the wrong person. Turns out it’s my mom debt. Supposedly they fix it but i just check my credit report and i saw they report me 4 times this month again. Can i sue them? They are refusing to remove this from my credit report they say i need to fix it myself by calling experian

    • John Watts says:


      What a frustrating experience — sorry you are dealing with this!

      If this is a student loan company — i.e. not a debt collector — then you do need to dispute through the credit reporting agencies like Experian. It is frustrating, but you have to dispute first with the credit bureaus and then only if it is not removed can you sue under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).

      Now if this is a debt collector you may be able to sue now under the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) under 15 USC Section 1692e and the example or illustration is 1692e(8).

      So the first step is to figure out if a debt collector did this or if it is the student loan company.

      If you are in Alabama feel free to call us at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn and she can set us up a call thanks!

      John Watts

  25. My name is Alexandra Martina, I live in California. My apartment got flooded some years back and I didn’t have the right rental insurance. There the bill came up to $50000 and I was asked to pay but didn’t have enough money so I agreed on a payment plan but got declined then had an eviction on my credit report. I didn’t realize that I had an eviction on my report until last 3 months while I was trying to buy a house, the realtor told me that my credit score was low(520) and wasn’t qualified for anything. I want to buy a house, I want to buy properties and start a business. I needed help and I found CREDIT STREAMERS here online, they are good and kind credit repair team. They pulled my score to 784, deleted the eviction and other negative item on my report, and added good trade lines. I got everything I wanted and even more.

  26. Jess says:


    I’m trying to figure out why a credit card account, that has been closed, is reporting a past due amount every month. The account is closed and we are making payments but there is no past due amount. I have called the creditor and spoke with several people, all stating there is no past due amount.

    I have been told, through the process of getting a mortgage, that this is negatively impacting my credit score. My question is does this in fact impact my score and is the creditor at fault? Thanks in advance for your help!

  27. Good Morning.

    There is a charge falsely being reported on my Experian credit report. I have disputed it before and Experian claimed that the debt had been validated and is mine. The collections agency sent me some documents that I did not agree with, and still have been reported on my Experian report, even though I reported them as false and inaccurate. Transunion and Equifax removed this false account from my credit report right away. Why is Experian so stubborn? Don’t they have enough legal troubles? Anyway, should I send a validation letter to Experian asking the channels that they used to obtain this false information? Can I sue them? The statute of limitations is about to run out in 2020 and the account is supposed to be deleted in 2021. However, we are trying to purchase a house and this discrepancy is ruining us. Thank you for any advise that you can give.

  28. Roe says:

    I got evicted in 2017. my wages were garnished and was sent to court paid my eviction in full . I tried apply for a place and they use AMRENT INC. when they ran it the eviction showed up. so I decided to call AMRENT INC to see for my self and it does . So I disputed it. I called the place that I applied for and told them my case has been settled by the judge and I can get the credit bureau letter from them saying that is it paid in full. Am I stuck for 7 years because where I am now i can’t afford . another place i applied for also use Rentgrowth showed the same thing. What can I do ? I really need help . I don’t think it’s fair one mistake cause me 7 years to struggle when I paid so much money to even get it settled .

  29. Ron says:

    I have debts that are past the statute of limitations for California, where I live. They have been sold off to collection agencies. Each agency falsely reports the age of the debt as only a couple of years old. And after a year or two they change to still be a couple of years old. They know from the information used in their purchasing of the debt the age of the debt. They purposely do this to keep it live on the credit reporting agencies. Can I sue them for this wicked tactic against me? Thank you.

    • Ron says:

      I forgot to say that this damages the chances of getting any approval for almost anything since it looks like I reneged on debt very recently. If the truth were know that this debt is past the statute of limitations, my reputation would be cleaner – no bad debt in the recent 5 years. They are lying in order to hurt me.

    • John Watts says:

      Ron you need to get with an FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) and FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) lawyer in CA. Try here — https://www.consumeradvocates.org/find-an-attorney.

      This may very well be re-aging and it is highly illegal.

      Wish I could help you in CA but you can find a good lawyer there.

      Best wishes and nail these bad guys!


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