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Disputed Accounts Reported on Your Credit

Pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") Justice _scaleupon receiving notice of a dispute from a consumer regarding inaccurate information on a credit report, the credit reporting agency ("CRA") and furnisher of the account have a duty to conduct a reasonable investigation into the dispute within 30 days and report back to the consumer with the results.  The law is clear that the CRA in conjunction with the furnisher of the account must conduct a reasonable investigation and either verify if accurate, update or delete the account information complained of.

In Dennis Van Veen v. Equifax Information, et al., a Pennsylvania Court ruled on the issue of a furnisher's duty to conduct a reasonable investigation even if it takes more than the 30 days proscribed by the statute.  2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21019 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 14, 2012).  In Van Veen, the plaintiff had a dispute with AT&T over a telephone bill that the plaintiff argued did not belong to him.  AT&T billed the plaintiff for $202 for a telephone line which the plaintiff claimed he never made calls from.  AT&T subsequently reversed the charges except for $62 which it proceeded to report to the CRAs as "charged off", thereby negatively impacting the plaintiff's credit report.  AT&T sometime later sent the plaintiff a letter stating the adjustment was due to incorrect billing.  After discovering the account on his report, the plaintiff sent a dispute letters to the credit reporting agencies asking the account be deleted from his credit file due to its inaccuracy.  However, instead of deleting the account, it  was verified and remained on his credit file.  The consumer subsequently filed suit arguing that AT&T failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into his dispute and failed to mark the account as "disputed" while taking additional time to conduct a reasonable investigation as required under the law.        

The court denied AT&T motion to dismiss the case stating that furnishers of credit information, like AT&T, have a duty to investigate disputes received from the CRAs.  In holding that AT&T may be liable for failing to take the necessary time to conduct a reasonable investigation and report the debt as "disputed" the court reiterated the purpose and spirit of the Act is not to discourage consumers from disputing accounts that are inaccurately reported.  Failing to report the debt as "disputed" would be considered misleading to a party reviewing the credit report as the "disputed" notation serves as an explanation into the consumer's credit worthiness.

If you feel your rights have been violated by a furnisher or credit reporting agency and information about your credit history is inaccurately reported, contact SmithMarco,PC for a free case review.  

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