remain neutral. We will list both sides. The consumer can list a statement of dispute. Other than that, [any discrepancies] must be addressed with the lender.”
With you and your lender in dispute, who are potential creditors likely to believe when reviewing your credit report? They may side with the previous lender. So what is your recourse when the previous lender has turned a deaf ear? If you think that you are being victimized, there are several national and nonprofit organizations willing to assist you.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that you have the right to sue a CRA or a provider of CRA data in state or federal court for most violations under the FCRA. If you are victorious, the defendant must pay damages and reimburse your attorney fees. Although the FTC cannot act as your lawyer, its duty is to enforce the FCRA. Write them at Consumer Response Center, FCRA, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Call 877-FTC-HELP or log on to www.ftc.gov.
Call for Action resolves more than 90% of its cases. The confidential services are free to individuals and small businesses. In addition to its telephone volunteers, this powerful organization has media partners in radio and television that publicize consumers’ concerns on the air. Call 301-657-8260 or visit www.callforaction.org.
“If you cannot resolve your problem with the credit bureau and creditor, contact Call for Action,” says Rooker. “We will first verify the information that you have provided, evaluate the problem, and figure out the appropriate way to handle it. We will then contact the creditor on the consumer’s behalf. Make sure you keep your records, receipts, canceled checks bills, and pay a few dollars for a credit report annually because you never know when debt can come back to haunt you.”
Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) is the headquarters for 129 local Better Business Bureaus around the country, and can assist consumers as well. Call 703-276-0100 or log on to www.bbb.org. If you wish to lodge a complaint against a credit bureau or information provider, the council will refer you to a bureau in your area that will then record the information and get documentation from you. “We will contact [the credit bureau] within 10 days to notify them of the matter,” says Ron Berry, senior vice president for the Council of Better Business Bureaus in Arlington, Virginia. “We will offer mediation or binding arbitration. It is a free service, and most complaints are resolved in 10 days. If telephone mediation is required, it could take up to 30 days, and up to 60 days for arbitration.”
National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) has about 1,500 counseling offices, and offers free or low cost services. Call 800-388-2227 or visit www.nfcc.org. “If you really want to make sure that creditors are addressing your concerns, send e-mails, faxes, and letters as well as call. Be a strong advocate for yourself. Ask for a supervisor if needed,” suggests McNally. “Be concise in what you are saying and attach supporting