Identity Theft and Credit Reporting
Bank and Lender Obligations
Each year millions of Americans are victims of identity theft in countless ways. Thieves access bank accounts, credit cards, online payment services, and home equity lines of credit. The consequences for the victim can be more than just the money stolen, however. The theft may also unfairly affect the victim’s credit rating. You need to know your rights in such circumstances and that you may need counsel to help enforce those rights for you.
The Alameda County and California fraud and banking attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. represent consumers whose credit ratings have been adversely affected by misleading or inaccurate information on their credit reports posted by reporting lenders, banks, credit card companies and credit bureaus. If you or a loved one has suffered a loss as a result of identity theft adversely affecting your credit rating, call us today at (415)441-8669. We handle cases in Alameda County and throughout California.
Take, for example, a thief accessing your credit card or your home equity credit line. The theft creates a debt. You owe that debt unless you report and challenge it. In addition, the debt goes on your credit rating. Once you report the theft to your bank or credit card company, they are required to investigate the transaction and remove or at the least flag the debt on your credit rating as disputed and under investigation. But you cannot always rely on the credit card company, bank or credit bureau to process the disputed debt correctly. The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) can protect you in these circumstances but you may need to reach out to counsel such as the lawyers at Evans Law Firm, Inc. to assert your rights.
Consumer Protections Laws
The TILA, for starters, is a consumer protection law. It limits liability for unauthorized transactions in consumer accounts, but not business or corporate accounts. If you have linked personal and business accounts, banks may push back claiming that an unauthorized transaction is on a business account not covered by the TILA liability limitations. Seek counsel if your bank or lender raises such a claim on an unauthorized use you know to be personal; do not accept the bank’s response as final. Courts will look at all of the circumstances to determine if your claim is personal (i.e., consumer) and covered by the Act.
Similarly, the FCRA is designed to protect you from any adverse effect unauthorized transactions can have on your credit rating. The FCRA holds banks and lenders accountable for posting inaccurate information or misinformation about transactions (debts) in your account to credit agencies and bureaus. If you have reported an unauthorized use of your credit card or home equity line, for example, the credit card company or lender has a responsibility to investigate the transaction and to note in any information it furnishes to a credit bureau that the charge or charges are in dispute. If they fail to do so, you can bring a lawsuit to enforce your rights.
In particular, the FCRA requires the bank furnishing information to a credit agency to (1) conduct an investigation with respect to any disputed charge; (2) review all relevant entries on the consumer’s report; and, (3) report the results of its investigation to the credit bureau. 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b)(1). If the bank finds that the information on the consumer’s report is incomplete or inaccurate, the bank must take further steps to correct the information, delete it, or permanently block the reporting of the information. 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b)(1)(E). These are precise demands on the reporting bank and important rights for aggrieved consumers, but you may need counsel to help you enforce those rights.
The Take Away
The take away here is for you to know your rights under consumer laws meant to protect you. You cannot rely on banks, lenders, credit card companies and credit bureaus to handle your disputed transactions correctly. If they don’t, your credit rating suffers and so do you. But that does not have to be the end of it. Both the Truth in Lending Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act provide remedies for you when banks, lenders, credit card companies, and credit bureaus violate those statutes to your detriment. If they have, seek out qualified counsel, such as the banking and credit reporting attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. to help you.
If you or someone you love is the victim of any type of identity theft and loss under the Truth in Lending Act and/or Fair Credit Reporting Act, call Ingrid Evans and the other Alameda County and California banking and credit reporting attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>. Our attorneys also have experience with fraud and financial elder abuse cases and complex qui tam or whistleblower cases, complex financial contract cases and cases against large insurance companies. We can help guide your case through a jury trial or toward an equitable settlement. We also handle cases involving whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.