In this age of digital banking, your credit rating is critical to any significant financial decision.  And when one of the major credit rating services ignores blatant errors on your personal report, real tragedy can occur as a result.

Julie Miller of Marion County, Oregon spent two years unsuccessfully trying to get Equifax Information Services to fix major mistakes on her credit report. She contacted Equifax eight times between 2009 and 2011 in an effort to correct inaccuracies, including erroneous accounts and collection attempts, as well as a wrong Social Security number and birthday.

Miller was awarded $18.4 million in punitive damages and $180,000 in compensatory damages by a federal grand jury.

Her attorney presented evidence of how the bad credit rating damaged her reputation, cost her lost opportunities to seek credit and prevented her from adequately helping a brother who is disabled .

In early December 2009, Miller discovered the problem when she was denied credit by a bank. She alerted Equifax and filled out multiple forms faxed by the credit agency seeking updated information. She had found similar mistakes in her reports with other credit bureaus, Baxter testified, but those companies corrected their errors.

Miller is not alone.  A Federal Trade Commission study released earlier this year of 1,001 consumers who reviewed 2,968 of their credit reports found that 21 percent of the reports contained errors. The survey found that 5 percent of the errors represented issues that would lead consumers to be denied credit.

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