Last Week Tonight host John Oliver took the credit reporting agencies to task on his April 10 show, and from the first minute of his monologue opened fire on how credit now controls more aspects of our lives than just bringing home that big screen or getting a car loan. Your credit score effects whether a landlord will rent you an apartment, how much you pay for insurance, and even whether or not you get a job, with nearly half of employers back in 2013 using your credit to determine whether or not you’d be a good employee. In fact, all three credit-reporting companies have engaged in marketing your credit report for many different purposes – including the three uses cited above and more.
There is, as we all know, a huge problem with that.
The problem with that is that most credit reports contain errors, as many as one in five, in fact, according to the FTC, and many people do not understand the process of appealing these errors and correcting their credit report. Furthermore, it is on the consumer to keep tabs on the information contained on their credit report, and that information can vary from company to company. In fact, a considerable number of people don’t even know that they are entitled to their three party credit report for free once per year.
And in some cases, errors on your credit report can be the least of your problems. Forbes reports that people have been mixed up with terrorists and sex offenders, while other people have discovered that they are – unbeknownst to them – dead. And as John Oliver points out, there is an industry press release stating that 95 percent of consumers are unaffected by errors in their credit reports – which is kind of like saying “Hey, it’s only 10 million people – just the equivalent of the population of Sweden – no biggie!”
Of course this is on the heels of the big three changing the way that they respond to consumer complaints and report debt. Money magazine reports that as part of a settlement with New York State Attorney General Eric Schniederman, the credit bureaus will train and then assign employees to review and investigate complaints, and will give consumers 180 days before adding medical debt to your credit report. This gives you time to receive and pay your bill instead of being walloped with a ding on your credit report just as you get home from the ER. A debt collection practice known as parking is notorious for showing up on your credit before the bill comes through the mail.
It can really seem like the deck is stacked against you when it comes to your credit report. Even if you have exhibited model behavior, you can still have dings on your report that aren’t even yours. If you are having difficulty correcting your credit report or dealing with collection agencies that are engaging in ethically dubious practices, give us a call for a free consultation. I know we can help.