If there is false information on your credit report, you may be able to file a lawsuit and recover money damages. Here in Irvine, CA, victims of false credit reports can sue for violations of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681, et seq., or for violations of the California Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act (“CCRAA:), Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1785.1, et seq. Both are similar and both are intended to protect consumers and borrowers from the adverse consequences of having false information on their credit reports. If you have been a victim of false credit reporting here in Irvine, California or elsewhere in California, call us here at Guardian Litigation Group. Here is a brief summary of what damages can be obtained for violations of the FCRA or the California CCRAA.
Who Can be Sued?
Both the FCRA or the California CCRAA allow for private lawsuits to be filed against credit reporting agencies — like TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian — and against what are called “furnishers” — those companies that “furnish” information about the consumer’s debt. So, for example, if your bank supplied information about your debts to national credit reporting agencies, your bank would be a “furnisher” under FCRA.
What is the Process?
In general, before you can file a lawsuit for false and/or inaccurate information on your credit report, you must officially dispute the information. That means you must send a letter or other communication asking that the information be corrected. A consumer can also send a letter or other communication to the furnisher. The FCRA and the California CCRAA then impose duties on the credit reporting agency (“CRA”) and the furnisher to investigate and correct false information. Most consumers send the request to the CRA because the CRA must then notify the furnisher of the credit information which triggers the duty to properly investigate the accuracy of the information. Failure to conduct a proper investigation and send correction information or delete the inaccurate information (where required) will make a furnisher liable under the FCRA and the California CCRAA. Here in California, the investigation must be “reasonable” and “non-cursory.” A furnisher must also have in place and follow “reasonable procedures” to assure maximum accuracy of information provided to CRAs.
As for the CRAs, they are also potentially liable for failure to conduct an investigation and for not having “reasonable procedures.” CRAs can also be liable under the FCRA and the California CCRAA for other violations. For example, every consumer is entitled to one free credit report from each CRA each year. Failure to provide a timely credit report will make the CRAs liable.
What Damages Can I Recover?
For CRAs and furnishers, a victim of false credit reporting in California can recover actual damages. These can include:
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost wages or earnings
- Damages for lost credit/borrowing opportunities
- Damages for emotional distress and worry about false credit information
- Damages for injury to the consumer’s reputation — like a defamation claim
- An Order from the Court requiring removal of false credit data on the consumer’s credit report
If it is shown that the CRAs and/or the furnishers willfully and/or recklessly violated the FCRA or the California CCRAA, then additional damages are available. Victims can recover statutory amounts from $100 to $1,000 per violation. Punitive damages can also be recovered in egregious cases. For example, the California CCRAA allows punitive damages from $100 to up to $5,000 per violation. Whether negligent or willful, victims of false credit reporting can recover their reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs.
Contact Our Experienced California FCRA Attorneys
For more information, contact the FCRA lawyers at Guardian Litigation Group. We have the tools and legal experience necessary to protect you, vindicate your rights and, potentially, to recover money damages on your behalf. We are your California Fair Credit Reporting Law Firm. Our Mission is to provide unparalleled legal services and support to consumers and financially distressed individuals. We can be reached via our contact page or by phone at (949) 444-5474. We are located in Irvine, California.