Fair Credit Reporting Litigation & Credit Report Disputes

Credit Report errors can cause a great deal of harm.  While the initial dispute is best done by you, we can come in after if an error will not be fixed or if a loan is being held hostage by a creditor with incorrect data.  We handle suits under the FCRA, RCW 19.182, and other relevant statutes.  Call today to see how we can help.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) & Credit Dispute Issues

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) codified as 15 U.S.C 1681 was designed to regulate what information can be listed on your credit report.  This information is referred to as a tradeline.  We can help you dispute inaccurate tradelines with the credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax).  This all starts with a dispute letter and evidence to prove that the tradeline is inaccurate.  If the credit bureaus refuse to remove the inaccurate information, you may be entitled to damages, costs, and attorney fees.

Generally, we do not handle the initial dispute as it is not cost effective for you to hire us for that service.  Rather, all it takes is a free dispute letter, a little bit of time, and some postage.  If you have followed the proper procedures and supplied relevant evidence to show the dispute is incorrect and the creditor will not correct it, call us to see if filing a suit for damages is appropriate.

We do handle credit disputes on the eve of home purchases where creditors pop out of the woodwork with false claims and demand full payment.  This is not actually done with the normal dispute process, rather, if we settle or threaten litigation and they voluntarily remove or report as paid as agreed, then it is resolved.  If the debt cannot be settled we are able to sue after the sale or if the sale fails if the debt was improper to collect.

In general, we only take cases:

  1. After the initial dispute has been done by you (it is not cost effective for an attorney to do this)
  2. If there is a material, significant dispute (we do not litigate because a debt is $1.38 off mark for example)
  3. There is at least one other cause of action beyond the FCRA dispute (usually it will be an FDCPA or breach of contract or similar suit, this is due to prevailing party analysis issues and safe harbor/bona fide error defenses- see below)
  4. There is demonstrable harm (such as the credit report was used to deny an apartment application and you had to sleep in your car for a week)
  5. After a safe harbor warning letter (from you or from us) has been sent via certified mail to the creditor to give them a chance to correct the negative tradeline

The reason for these precautions is that in FCRA disputes (or any consumer protection suit), the loser must pay the winner’s fees.  If we file a suit over $1.38 error and a court were to find it non-material or subject to a safe harbor/bona fide error defense or even that you were wrong and the creditor was right, you could be on the hook for tens of thousands of attorney’s fees from the other side.

If there are multiple causes of action (such as they did not correct the mark (FCRA), they are collecting illlegal amounts (FDCPA, RCW 19.16, RC 19.86), the interest was above the usury limit (RCW 19.52), and you are claiming intential infliction of emotional distress) losing on one of four claims and winning on several others means that you are the prevailing party and they have to pay your fees.  We are selective in case and client selection to make sure that on the odds, you are very likely to win your case.  As this is largely a contingent practice, we also don’t get paid unless we win.  It is in everyone’s best interest that only strong cases that are very likely to win are pursued.

Free Credit Dispute Forms & Instructions

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides free forms and instructions on how to dispute credit report errors.  We recommend the FTC forms because not only are they easy to use but it does not give away that you might, intend to, or have lawyered up.  There are advantages in being generic in your approach and using a common, standard form.

Link to FTC Credit Dispute Form

Link to FTC Credit Dispute Instructions


Credit Furnisher Liability under FACTA, FCRA, & RCW 19.182

Creditors themselves reporting information they know to be inaccurate may be liable under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) and FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Reporting Act).  Additionally, liability for violation of Washington State Law RCW 19.182 (Washington Fair Credit Reporting Act) may apply.  Violations of any of these law typically allow for damages and attorney fees.


Common FCRA Violations


Common RCW 19.182 Violations


Has a Credit Repair Firm Charged you Before Completing their Service?

Under the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA), you may not be charged for credit repair services prior to the work being completed.  CROA also prohibits false, misleading, deceptive, and other unfair conduct by credit repair organizations.


Litigation under the FCRA

We offer contingency, hourly, and flat-fee options depending upon the specifics of your case and your legal goals.  If you prefer to represent yourself and you can also retain us ala carte for advice, drafting of documents, or trial preparation.  If at any time you feel like you are in over your head, we can jump in and take over the case.  Call us today to see how we can help.