05 Feb How Much Can A Company Charge To Correct My Credit Report?
That was a trick question. The Credit Repair Organizations Act recognizes that people have an interest in keeping their credit reports accurate and updated. The law also realizes that many people seek assistance from companies that offer to correct those errors.
But the waters are shark-infested. People with credit problems need to be protected from companies that are looking to prey on their fears without providing any assistance of value.
That’s why the CROA provides that
No credit repair organization may charge or receive any money or other valuable consideration for the performance of any service which the credit repair organization has agreed to perform for any consumer before such service is fully performed.
In addition, the law requires the company to give you the following disclosure:
‘Consumer Credit File Rights Under State and Federal Law
You have a right to dispute inaccurate information in your credit report by contacting the credit bureau directly. However, neither you nor any ”credit repair” company or credit repair organization has the right to have accurate, current, and verifiable information removed from your credit report. The credit bureau must remove accurate, negative information from your report only if it is over 7 years old. Bankruptcy information can be reported for 10 years.
You have a right to obtain a copy of your credit report from a credit bureau. You may be charged a reasonable fee. There is no fee, however, if you have been turned down for credit, employment, insurance, or a rental dwelling because of information in your credit report within the preceding 60 days. The credit bureau must provide someone to help you interpret the information in your credit file. You are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report if you are unemployed and intend to apply for employment in the next 60 days, if you are a recipient of public welfare assistance, or if you have reason to believe that there is inaccurate information in your credit report due to fraud.
You have a right to sue a credit repair organization that violates the Credit Repair Organization Act. This law prohibits deceptive practices by credit repair organizations.
You have the right to cancel your contract with any credit repair organization for any reason within 3 business days from the date you signed it.
Credit bureaus are required to follow reasonable procedures to ensure that the information they report is accurate. However, mistakes may occur.
You may, on your own, notify a credit bureau in writing that you dispute the accuracy of information in your credit file. The credit bureau must then reinvestigate and modify or remove inaccurate or incomplete information. The credit bureau may not charge any fee for this service. Any pertinent information and copies of all documents you have concerning an error should be given to the credit bureau.
If the credit bureau’s reinvestigation does not resolve the dispute to your satisfaction, you may send a brief statement to the credit bureau, to be kept in your file, explaining why you think the record is inaccurate. The credit bureau must include a summary of your statement about disputed information with any report it issues about you.
The Federal Trade Commission regulates credit bureaus and credit repair organizations. For more information contact:
The Public Reference Branch
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, D.C. 20580’.
The morale of the story? Buyer beware – there are a ton of places out there that will try to swindle you out of your hard earned money. Some of these places have impressive sounding names and claim to be lawyers or law firms, but that doesn’t make them any more honest than the person on the corner playing three-card monte.
Jay S. Fleischman is a bankruptcy attorney with offices in Pasadena, California who sues bill collectors for violations of the discharge injunction and automatic stay violations.
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