A new report found in Ohio’s Columbus Dispatch found that credit reporting mistakes can cause irreparable damage to consumers’ credit around the country, including individuals in New Jersey. Due to loopholes and obstacles in the federal law that govern credit reporting agencies, New Jerseyans are left virtually powerless to any mistakes reported.
Credit Reporting Agencies Lack Government Regulation
The Columbus Dispatch conducted a year-long investigation to explore the complaints consumers have filed in recent years to determine the government’s role in overseeing credit reporting bureaus.
The newspaper looked at 30,000 complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission over 30 months beginning in 2009, along with complaints filed with attorney generals in 24 states in 2009 and 2010.
Its investigation found that the majority of complaints alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act by Equifax, Experian and Transunion, citing that they have failed to even repair obvious mistakes such as wrong birth dates and names.
Other common credit reporting complaints issued to governing agencies include:
- Incorrectly listed mortgages, credit cards and car loans
- Paid-off debts shown as delinquent or defaulted
- Consumers listed as dead
Consumers regularly complained to the federal agencies that they could not persuade the credit reporting bureaus to remove the information on their own. According to the Dispatch, the Fair Credit Reporting Act does little to provide help to consumers because agencies don’t face penalties for reporting inaccurate information.
Credit Reporting Errors Hurt New Jersey Consumers
As with consumers around the country, credit reporting mistakes can cause significant damage to a New Jersey consumer’s finances. While errors on a credit report may seem small, they can have a huge impact on a person’s standard of living.
Among the problems New Jersey consumers can face due credit errors include:
- Inability to buy a car or home
- Job rejection
- Higher insurance costs
- Failure to open a bank account
With credit reporting agencies facing no penalties for failing to correct reports when prompted, consumers face the issues that arise from damaged reports and lower credit scores. For many, filing a lawsuit is the only option available for having their credit corrected.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the newspaper’s findings are “stunning and infuriating” and has asked attorney generals in other states to join a multi-state investigation into the credit reporting system.
President Barack Obama also issued a statement to the Dispatch, noting that his administration would make regulating credit reporting agencies a priority.
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