CFPB opens federal complaint system to credit report disputes
Fed up with the way the credit bureaus are handling
your credit information? You can now file a complaint directly with the
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Beginning Monday, Oct. 22, the federal watchdog
group began accepting complaints related to the three big credit bureaus,
Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, and to the many smaller credit reporting agencies
that collect and sell your financial information to other companies.
Previously, consumers had nowhere else to turn but
to the courts when they couldn't get a complaint resolved with a credit reporting
agency. They now can file a complaint directly with the CFPB and
the government agency will relay that information to the credit bureaus and ask
the bureaus for a personalized response.
"Credit reporting companies exert great influence
over the lives of consumers," said CFPB director Richard Cordray in a statement
accompanying the announcement. "They help determine eligibility for loans,
housing and sometimes jobs. Consumers need an avenue of recourse when they feel
they have been wronged."
Credit bureaus will be expected to respond within 15
days after they have received a complaint from the CFPB -- and the response will have to be more than
just a boilerplate summary. The CFPB is asking the credit bureaus to respond to
each credit report complaint with specific steps that the bureau has taken -- or
will take -- to get a consumer's issue resolved. If a consumer isn't satisfied
with a credit bureau's response, he or she can challenge the response by sending a
dispute directly to the CFPB.
helps enforce the Fair Credit Reporting Act
Many of the anticipated complaints the CFPB lists on its website are instances
in which a consumer's rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
violated. For example, by law, credit reporting agencies are required to
properly investigate and correct legitimate errors on a consumer's credit
report after a consumer has disputed them. But sometimes real errors get mistakenly verified, according to numerous reports.
If a consumer feels the credit bureau has not
properly investigated a dispute, took more than 30 days to respond to
it or did not notify the consumer of an investigation's results, the consumer can notify the CFPB. "Each complaint will be processed individually and sent to the company for response," according to the agency.
Other possible complaints the agency lists on its
The improper, and potentially illegal, use
of a consumer's credit report.
Problems with obtaining a federally
guaranteed free annual copy of a credit report.
Issues with the bureaus' credit
monitoring or identity protection services.
Problems with canceling or closing an account
with the credit bureaus -- or with being harassed by unwanted marketing or
to submit your complaints
you're complaining about an error on your credit report that has yet to be
resolved, make sure that you first submit a dispute through the credit reporting
agency's formal dispute system, says the CFPB. That ensures that your rights
under the Fair Credit Reporting Act will be automatically triggered.
If a credit bureau persists in verifying what you believe is an error on
your report -- or if you are dissatisfied with some other issue related to your
credit reports -- you can file your complaint online using the CFPB's formal complaint system. Or you can submit your complaint by
phone by calling the toll free number 855-411-2372. (If you're hearing
impaired, try calling the agency's TTY/TDD number instead at 855-729-2372.)
If you prefer to write a letter rather than submit
your complaint online, you can send your complaint by fax to 855-237-2392 or
by mail to: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, P.O. Box 4503, Iowa City,
Once you have submitted your complaint, the CFPB
will give you a tracking number that you can use to monitor it while you wait
for a response. In order to check your complaint's status, you will need to
register with the CFPB online and set up a user name and password.
If you're dissatisfied with the answer you receive from
the credit bureau after you have submitted your complaint, contact the CFPB. You
can dispute any response that you feel doesn't resolve your specific issue.
See related: 10 surefire steps to get errors off your credit reports; Federal agency opens credit card complaints to public
Published: October 22, 2012
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