The courts take violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) very seriously, especially when they are willful violations. Recently, a federal jury in California awarded $60 million in damages for willful FCRA violations allegedly committed by TransUnion.
While performing credit checks, TransUnion confused consumers with individuals with information stored in the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) database. These individuals were terrorists, money launderers, and drug traffickers. The affected consumers received record-breaking damages because the major credit bureau willfully violated the FCRA in three ways:
- TransUnion failed to follow reasonable procedures to accurately verify the OFAC information.
- The credit reporting bureau willfully neglected clear and accurate disclosers of OFAC information in the disclosures sent out to consumers.
- It failed to provide consumers involved in the class action lawsuit with a summary of their FCRA rights in written disclosures.
The class action lawsuit against TransUnion involved 8,185 consumers. Each of these individuals received $984.22 in statutory damages and $6,353.08 in punitive damages. Of course, this was a huge case involving major violations of the FCRA. Serious infractions such as these are rare. However, lesser violations of the FCRA happen all the time. Unfortunately, lenders and credit bureaus don’t always handle consumer information as carefully and accurately as they should. This is why Michigan consumers should have at least a working knowledge of how the Fair Credit Reporting Act protects their rights.
How the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Protects the Rights of Michigan Consumers
Simply put, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal statute the gives consumers in Michigan, and in every other state, the right to fair and accurate credit reports. The FCRA also protects your right to privacy. In addition, the FCRA guards your credit information against misuse by any party.
It is important that the the Fair Credit Reporting Act governs the credit reporting bureaus (CRAs). These agencies are responsible for compiling the information contained in your credit reports. Often, your credit reports and credit scores are checked for various reasons. Interest rates on loans and credit cards are determined by credit checks. Also, your credit history can determine how much you pay for insurance and whether or not you can be hired for certain jobs. As a Michigan consumer, it is crucial for your credit reports to be accurate and error-free.
Inaccuracies on credit reports can cause Michiganders to suffer harm. For example, if your credit score has dropped due to a credit report error, you could be denied an auto loan or mortgage. Don’t think that it can’t happen to you. Actually, about 80% of consumer credit reports contain inaccuracies of some type. The recent lawsuit against TransUnion proves that credit bureaus do willfully violate the FCRA, so Michigan consumers should protect themselves.
The best way to ensure that your credit information is accurate is to regularly check your credit reports. Another federal statute known as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act entitles you to request a free copy of your credit report from each of the major credit reporting bureaus every 12 months. You can get all three versions at www.annualcreditreport.com.
The Free and Legal Way for Michiganders to Improve their Credit Scores
Any consumer can dispute credit report errors themselves, but Michigan residents don’t have to go through the process on their own. Instead, they can get a FREE credit repair lawyer to make sure that their rights under the FCRA are protected. Even if you just suspect that there are errors on your credit reports, you can get a Free Credit Report Review from Michigan Consumer Credit Lawyers.
Don’t let errors on your credit reports bring your credit score down. At Michigan Consumer Credit Lawyers, we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? All of our fees come from the defendants in settled cases. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.
Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (248) 353-2882 or contact us on our contact page.