We started this blog off with the suggestion that you pull your credit reports, review them, and dispute any errors with the consumer reporting agencies or credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union). When that does not correct false items, it is time to go on to the fourth step which is to sue Equifax, Experian, Transunion, and any other responsible parties such as the creditor or furnisher of information.
Who Can I Sue?
If you have disputed the inaccurate item and it still is wrong, then you normally can sue the credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union, etc) and normally you can also sue the “furnisher” – the creditor or collector who supplied (furnished) the information to the credit reporting agency.
What Law Applies?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the main law that applies. This federal law explains what the obligations are of the credit bureaus and the creditors or collectors who furnish information to the credit bureaus. It also describes when and who you can sue and what you can be awarded in way of damages.
Alabama state law (or your state if you are outside of Alabama) applies also but there are some issues related to interaction of federal and state law that can get a little bit convoluted but the basic gist is the FCRA will apply and state law may apply.
What Court Can I File Suit In?
You can file a FCRA claim in federal court and normally you can also file these types of claims in state court. If you bring a claim under the FCRA the defendants will often “remove” or transfer your case from state court to federal court. There are advantages and disadvantages to being in federal court and to being in state court. It varies by region, state, and even county but a knowledgeable consumer lawyer in your area can properly advise you on this issue.
Do I Need A Lawyer?
You don’t have to have a lawyer but if you have a legitimate case you should strongly consider hiring a lawyer. The FCRA has some strange requirements that often even lawyers don’t know about (unless they focus their practice on consumer cases). People have been successful handling these types of cases without lawyers but, as we will discuss next, hiring a consumer lawyer should not cost you any money out of your pocket and given the expertise you will have on your side facing huge companies who have their own lawyers, it certainly is worth talking to a consumer lawyer before filing your case.
What Will A Lawyer Cost Me?
We do not charge to meet with you and we don’t ask you to pay us anything out of your pocket. We either charge a contingency hourly rate so we simply total our hours up and subtract that from the settlement or we have a percentage we are paid out of any recovery to you. The bottom line is we only get paid if you get compensated for the damage you have suffered. The great thing about the FCRA is sometimes at the end of the case the judge will order the defendants to pay our fees. This is poetic justice – the credit bureaus who have mistreated you now have to pay for your lawyer to represent you against them.
What Can I Receive From The Lawsuit?
The law says you can be compensated for your damages and injuries. This includes, normally, mental anguish or emotional distress damages. Under certain circumstances you can recover punitive damages which have two functions:
1. Punish the defendant for its reckless or intentional conduct;
2. Deter the defendant and similar companies from doing this type of reckless or intentional conduct in the future.
You can also often recover attorney’s fees to help pay for your lawyer – the defendant can be ordered to pay this money.
What Action Do I Need To Take Right Now?
Assuming you have pulled your credit reports, reviewed them, disputed any errors with the consumer reporting agencies or credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union), and the error still remains, it is time to contact us if you live in Alabama. If you do not feel comfortable reviewing and disputing, feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to meet with you and lay out your options. We do not charge to meet with you. We make our money when we bring solid cases of liability and damages against the credit reporting agencies and the creditors or furnishers who have supplied false information about our clients. We look forward to helping you in any way we can. Contact us today and let us help you.
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