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San Diego Consumers: Case of Credit Reporting Agency Held Accountable For Errors

In San Diego, many residents have had their identity stolen creating negative information on their credit bureau reports. Some San Diego residents have incorrect information on their credit reports due to circumstances described below which is not a San Diego case. The three major reporting credit agencies are TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. If you have any legal questions, please feel free to contact our firm of Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation by e mail or phone.

Judy discovered that her credit report from a large credit reporting agency erroneously included about a dozen accounts for a different person, also named Judith. The report identified Judy as using that person’s name as an alias. Unfortunately, the “other” Judith, who did exist, had a checkered debt-paying history that was erroneously presented as Judy’s in the credit report.

Judy’s own spadework revealed that the credit reporting agency had merged her information with that of the second Judith because they had similar first names, were born in the same year, were from the same part of the country, and, most importantly, their Social Security numbers differed by only one digit. This initial computer mistake was bad enough, but what ultimately led to a very large damages verdict for Judy was the inadequate response of the reporting agency once Judy had brought the errors to its attention.

The agency deleted some of the accounts that did not belong in Judy’s report, but it kept most of them after supposedly verifying them with creditors. This “verification” was very superficial and did not convey to the creditors the information Judy had provided. In effect, the agency simply asked each creditor, “Is this what you reported?” Fully three years after Judy notified the reporting agency of the erroneous information in her report, some of it remained, and the undeserved stain on her credit was as obvious as ever. To add insult to injury, some of the deleted information from the second Judith even reappeared on Judy’s report.

The situation came to a head when the erroneous credit report caused Judy to be denied a mortgage. By supplying still more information to the agency, including a supportive letter from the “other” Judith, and contacting creditors herself, Judy eventually cleaned up her credit report and got out from under the shadow of a stranger’s unpaid debts. By then, however, she was a wreck emotionally, and the damage to her credit reputation was only beginning to be restored. A jury verdict made the credit reporting agency pay for these injuries, but sent an even louder message in a large award of punitive damages.

The success achieved in Judy’s lawsuit was largely due to her own diligence. The steps she took are practically a blueprint for what someone should do when credit reporting errors are made and then left uncorrected by an agency. It took years in her case, but Judy prevailed in the end by making telephone calls, keeping notes and documents, contacting creditors directly, and even enlisting the aid of the debtor whose poor credit history had appeared in Judy’s credit report.

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