How I sued Equifax and fixed my credit report.
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The ultimate goal of this web site is to help consumers correct their credit reports and empower more people to take Equifax to court when Equifax does not fix mistakes on their credit reports in a timely manner.
It's profitable for Equifax not to correct your credit report
I am not a lawyer and I do not provide legal advice, but I have done a lot of reasearch into the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. Since 2000 I had derogatory information reported on my Equifax credit report that was not accurate. Experian and Trans Union removed the derogatory information from my credit report without a problem, but Equifax did not. They are not very friendly to consumers. My experience with Equifax is that they care more about their profits and their relationship with their customers than they do about the accuracy of millions of consumer reports that they maintain. It is more profitable (over 740 million dollars) for Equifax to leave derogatory information on consumers' credit reports than to correct it. Because there are probably tens of thousands of Americans trying to fix their credit report on a daily basis, Equifax has come up with an investigation system that is practically worthless. This is done deliberately. The reason their system is not thorough is because a more thorough system would take away from their handsome profits. They don't care about accurate consumer credit reports, they care about profits. Until it becomes more expensive for Equifax to keep incorrect information on consumers' credit reports, they will continue their anti-consumer practices.
Three years researching how to fix my credit report
It took me three years to correct a single mistake on my credit report because Equifax was negligent in investigating my repeated requests to fix my credit report. In November 2000 when the negative information first appeared on my credit report, I did not know anything about the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Since then I have spent countless hours online and in the Rutgers University Law Library educating myself about my rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. It is unfortunate that I had to spend so much time learning how to clear up my report. Equifax is at fault for my headaches over the last several years.
Suing the bastards
After learning about the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and finding the time to put my case together and sue, I sued Equifax in small claims court for $3,000 in Union County, New Jersey in April 2005. For a fee of $19 my case was filed on April 5, 2005 and the court date was only two weeks later on April 19, 2005. Quick justice! Equifax had Pamela Smith appear in court on April 19, 2005. I presented my case to Judge Joseph Perfilio on Tuesday the 19th and he made his decision on Thursday the 21st. By the way Ms. Smith did not have much to say to the judge other than explaining that Equifax verified the
collection account at least five times. Their verification procedures are clear violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The judge dismissed the case because I did not file my claim within the two year statute of limitations. He explained that he would have ruled in my favor otherwise. I am preparing to appeal his decision or file a motion to reconsider. (I'll post the outcome here.) Even if I don't win on appeal, I get great joy knowing that Equifax had to fly Pamela Smith to Elizabeth, New Jersey from Atlanta, Georgia to appear in court for two days. If enough consumers take Equifax to court like me, they may start treating consumers better.
Update 8/27/2005: I decided not to appeal my case. I did not appeal because I do not have the time to do the required research to appeal my case successfully. I believe Judge Perfilio errored when he ruled that I did not file the case within the statute of limitations. In my opinion the statute of limitations began the last time that Equifax continued to report the incorrect information on my report which was around the end of April 2003. I filed my case in early April 2005 just shy of the two year statute of limitations.
Although many consumers are being harmed because of the practices of credit reporting companies like Equifax, it is difficult for the average consumer to fix their own credit report.
Why is it difficult to fix your credit report?
1. Equifax does not care about you. You do not make them much money.
2. Consumers don't know their rights and how to use the courts to fight for their rights.
3. Many lawyers do not know much about the Fair Credit Reporting Act and how to use it. The lawyers that do know how to use the Fair Credit Reporting Act want you to give them a lot of money up front (usually several thousand dollars) before they will fight for you. Some will work on a contingency basis, but your case needs to be a very good case.
How to fix your credit report step by step. (This is how I fixed my credit report)
1. Request a free copy of your credit report. Write to Equifax and explain why your credit report is not acccurate. Make sure you keep all written correspondence (including the envelope) in case you need to use it as evidence in court. I recommend sending all correspondence to Equifax via certified mail. If you don't have the evidence to back up your case you will have a very difficult time winning in court.
2. Wait for Equifax to investigate. They have thirty days to investigate under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and respond to you or remove the derogatory information.
3. If the information is not removed after thirty days, write to Equifax again and ask them to re-investigate. You may want to write a letter similar to this dispute letter.
4. If the incorrect information has still not been removed, you must file a lawsuit against Equifax. Equifax does not seem to listen to consumers unless you take them to court.
Follow the same steps to dispute incorrect information on your credit report with Experian and Trans Union also.
I would like to hear from you. Please send comments and questions to me at jeff at reallyfreecreditreport. com. Please put "Equifax" in the subject of your email.