If there’s something strange in your credit report, who you gonna call?
Sorry, not even Ghostbusters will help, even though consumers often describe being haunted by errors in their credit reports that they can’t get corrected.
If you haven’t been successful in getting a credit bureau to address problems with inaccurate information in your credit report, you might have felt alone in pressing for a resolution. You probably had no idea whom to call.
That’s changing. Now you can call the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The watchdog agency has begun accepting individual complaints about credit bureaus. The CFPB will be investigating inaccurate information on credit reports, the improper use of people’s reports, the inability of consumers to obtain copies of their reports or credit scores, and problems with identity theft protection services.
“This is a big step for the federal government, which has never had widespread access to information about the credit reporting industry,” said Bill Hardekopf, chief executive of LowCards.com. “It will help bring transparency and public accountability to credit reporting agencies. Until now, credit agencies have been like the Wizard of Oz, powerful but unapproachable.”
The information in a credit report is used to generate a credit score. Errors in your file can lead to the denial of credit, a job or insurance.
“Credit scores now cast long shadows over many areas of our personal lives,” Hardekopf said. “The credit score is how businesses judge you and determine the interest rate you will pay. Every American deserves an accurate report and the chance to easily dispute errors and get timely corrections.”
The credit reporting industry has consistently maintained that the vast majority of reports are error-free and that it is rare for a mistake to affect the credit terms a consumer gets. In a study released last year, researchers found that less than 1 percent of credit reports had errors that could adversely impact consumers. The study was funded with a grant from the Consumer Data Industry Association, a trade group that represents consumer data companies.
Consumer advocacy groups have produced their own studies showing just the opposite – that many reports are riddled with errors. A much-cited study by the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups found that almost 79 percent of all credit reports had some type of error.
If you have an issue with a credit bureau, your first stop isn’t going to be the CFPB. The agency wants you to initially go through the credit reporting company’s complaint process. If the problem isn’t fixed, then you should contact the consumer agency at www.consumerfinance.gov/complain or by calling toll-free at (855) 411-2372. And when you do, you’ll be given a tracking number to check on the status of your complaint. As part of the CFPB’s process, you’ll have an opportunity to dispute the company’s response to your complaint.
Consumer bureau lets con-sumers file complaints about credit reports.