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Disputes Archives | Ovation Credit Repair Services

Consumers Have Power? There’s No Dispute

By | Ask a Credit Expert, Consumer Rights, Credit Reports, Fair Credit Reporting Act

To anyone who’s ever doubted the ability of individuals to convince large faceless institutions (like, say, credit bureaus) to fix their errors and do what’s right, the National Park Service’s recent announcement that it will be restoring a quotation at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., must represent a ray of hope.

For those not familiar with the story, the granite memorial, which was dedicated last fall, featured a quote of King’s that had been condensed from 45 words down to 10. The problem was that the truncated version actually conveyed the opposite meaning of the “drum major” speech it was taken from. After poet Maya Angelou and others disputed the abridgement, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar finally ordered the park service to correct it.

“Yeah,” you might be saying, “but they could prove THAT error. How am I supposed to prove an error on my credit report is wrong?”

Answer: You don’t have to.

No, really. The burden of proof is on the credit bureaus and creditors, not the consumer. The Fair Credit Reporting Act ensures that when you contact the bureaus with a dispute about your credit report, their responsibility is to contact the creditor, and the creditor has to verify it.

The only exception is that sometimes you’ll need to prove your identity. The bureaus frequently will require proof of identity — a photo ID with your current address, something with your Social Security number, and something else confirming your current address — if you’ve moved within the last couple of years. Creditors, too, will sometimes require completion of a fraud affidavit if an account appearing on your credit report isn’t yours.

One last thing to remember: The bureaus can’t tell you to stop disputing, or that they won’t investigate a dispute anymore. As a consumer, you always have the right to dispute. For us, if a bureau responds to a client’s dispute by saying, “Yeah, it’s verified, and it’s correct the way we’re reporting it,” if the client says it’s still not correct, then we continue to fight on that item and continue to dispute.

Ultimately, whether you’re talking about faulty credit reports or botched memorials, there’s no reason people should feel powerless to correct bad information. And fortunately, unlike the King quote, credit reports aren’t written in stone.

Validation of Debt

By | Collections, Consumer Rights, Credit Laws, Debt

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors have certain obligations when first communicating with a consumer about a debt.  The debt collector must provide certain information within five days of the initial contact with the consumer.  That information includes the amount of the debt and the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed. 

The debt collector must also provide certain statements within five days of the initial communication.  The following statements are required:

  1. A statement that the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector unless the consumer, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt within thirty days after receipt of the notice;
  2. A statement that the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed; and
  3. A statement that the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor if different from the current creditor upon the consumer’s written request within the thirty-day period.

Keep in mind that a communication in the form of a formal pleading in a civil action is not considered an “initial communication.”

Validating the Debt:

If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector must cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt.  The debt collector can satisfy this requirement by obtaining a copy of a judgment or other specific account information and mailing the information to the consumer.

Also, if the consumer has requested the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector must cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains the name and address of the original creditor and that information is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.

Debt collectors are allowed to proceed with lawful collection activity during the thirty day period prior to receipt of a dispute.  Any collection activities and communication during the thirty day period may not overshadow or be inconsistent with the disclosure of the consumer’s right to dispute the debt or request the name and address of the original creditor.

What happens if the consumer does not demand validation of the debt within the thirty day period?

If the consumer does not dispute the validity of the debt during the thirty day period, the debt collector may assume that the debt is valid for collection purposes.  However, the failure of a consumer to dispute the validity of a debt may not be construed by any court as an admission of liability by the consumer.

What does this mean?

When you are contacted by a debt collector in regard to a debt that you allegedly owe, it does not mean that the debt collector has access to the information necessary to validate the debt.  While some debt collectors have this information in advance of an initial contact, many debt collectors only attempt to validate a debt if the consumer requests during the thirty day period.  If the debt cannot be validated, the debt collector must cease additional collection activity.  Also, if a debt cannot be validated, the debt cannot be reported on your credit profile.

What Can I Dispute On My Credit Reports?

By | Ask a Credit Expert

Credit reports are broken up into sections.  The main sections are: Personal Information, Credit Account Information, Negative Account Information (collection, charge off, foreclosure, repossession, late payments, etc.), Public Records, and Inquiries.  Depending on the type of report that you get, there can be more sections.  Once you get your credit reports and review them then you can decide if there is anything on the reports that may need to be disputed.

Disputing your credit report is a process that was created to get questionable, inaccurate, incomplete, and/or misleading information updated and/or removed from credit reports.  As a consumer you have the right to dispute anything on your credit reports that you feel fits any of the categories above. The most popular information that consumers dispute is: Personal Information, Negative Account Information (collection, charge off, foreclosure, repossession, late payments, etc.), Public Records, and Inquiries.  When you dispute an item on your credit report, the credit bureau must do an investigation.  This means that they are to contact the creditor and ask for proof that the information reporting is accurate.  If the creditor cannot prove that the information reporting is accurate than they need to update or remove the information.  As changes are made on your credit report, changes will also be made to your credit scores.  Give one of our Case Analysts a call for a FREE consultation to discuss what we can do to help you dispute your credit reports!

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