About The California Fair Credit Reporting Act And FCRA
We are California FCRA attorneys, based in Los Angeles, and represent only consumers. The Trueblood Law Firm drafted the appellate briefs in the landmark case of Sanai v. Saltz, on the issue of federal FCRA preemption. The California appellate court adopted our argument, and held that California’s fair credit reporting law is not preempted by the FCRA. The result has been that California consumers have been restored their fair credit reporting rights under state law.
Information on your credit report must be “complete and accurate”, but most people’s credit reports still contain errors. Both credit reporting agencies, debt collectors, and creditors have a duty to correct inaccurate information, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the California Credit Reporting Agencies Act (CCRAA).
There are some simple steps you can take yourself to correct inaccurate information, even without an attorney. Failing that, the California fair credit reporting law allows consumers to sue to recover significant statutory penalties — between $100 and $5,000 per month of inaccurate credit reporting — plus attorneys fees and costs. Here are some areas to watch.
Credit Reporting After A Bankruptcy Discharge.
Reporting anything other than a zero balance after a bankruptcy discharge, is illegal under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the California Credit Reporting Agencies Act (CCRAA). Once a debt is discharged in bankruptcy, the creditor must report a “zero” balance, and that the debt was discharged. Write a letter to your old creditor, by certified mail, and tell them that the account is inaccurate on your credit reports, and should be reporting with a zero balance. Include a copy of the formal notice of discharge (get that from your bankruptcy lawyer). If that doesn’t cure the problem, please give us a call.
Creditors and the credit reporting agencies have a legal duty to investigate and clear up the record of the identity theft victim. The first step is to freeze your credit reports with the three major credit reporting agencies, to prevent further fraudulent credit accounts from being opened. Next, you should file a police report and contact each creditor with a certified mail letter stating you are a victim of identity theft (and including the police report). Please contact us for a consultation on identity theft issues. There are steps you can take on your own, but in this area having a lawyer can be indispensable. There are significant penalties available to identity theft victims, under California law.
Re-aging of Accounts
The furnisher of credit information must include an accurate date for the account to drop off the consumer’s credit reports – generally seven years after the delinquency. But some unscrupulous debt collectors report a more recent date, in order to keep the derogatory account on your credit report longer than the seven year limit, and force you to pay them.
Time Limits On Credit Reporting
The general time limit under the FCRA is seven years from the delinquency. After that, the harmful credit notation must drop off your credit report.
Auto Loan Deficiency Credit Reporting
In this case, you need a lawyer to look at the “Notice of Plan to Sell Property” or “Notice of Intent To Sell Motor Vehicle” that the lender sent to you after it repossessed the vehicle. If that notice was defective under the Rees-Levering Automobile Sales Finance Act, you don’t owe any debt and can get the deficiency balance wiped off your credit report. Please give us a call for a free consultation, once you find a copy of your notice. We are nationally known legal experts in this area, and have wiped out over a billion dollars in deficiency balances on behalf of California consumers.
Failure to Report Account as “Disputed”
Professional debt collectors must report an account as “disputed” if you so notify them, even if they disagree. Most creditors simply ignore this requirement under federal law, and are liable for their failure. Use certified mail to let the debt collector know that you dispute the account and expect it to be reported that way.
When your credit report has a major inaccuracy, send a certified mail letter to the creditor or debt collector whose name appears on your credit reports. Keep it simple, and don’t be long-winded. Don’t use internet forms. Explain what the inaccuracy is, include any proof, and request that they correct it. Sign the letter and keep a copy. Please contact us if your certified letter fails to clear up the problem. There are significant penalty damages available to consumers, when a creditor continues to report inaccurate information upon being notified. You can also get your attorneys fees paid by the creditor.
Credit Repair Companies
Unfortunately, “credit repair” companies are virtually always a scam. They charge for what you can do yourself — ask the credit reporting agencies to fix their errors. Worse, some of these companies try to “clean” your record by intentionally confusing the credit reporting agency’s computer files, leading to more problems than you started with. If a company tells you it can remove truthful but adverse information, hold onto your wallet. A much better option is to contact a consumer attorney.