If there’s ever a time to check your credit score, it’s now. Your credit score can affect everything from your ability to get loans, housing and even jobs. If there are errors on your credit report, you need to know how to fix them right away.
Julie Miller, an Oregon woman, was recently awarded nearly $18.6 million in punitive and compensatory damages after she spent 2 years trying to get Equifax, one of the largest credit bureaus in America, to fix major errors on her credit report.
And her case isn’t that unusual — several independent and federal studies note that almost a quarter of Americans have errors on their credit report.
Let’s have a look at Miller’s story and see why it’s so important for everyone to check their credit report.
Justice From an Oregon Courtroom
It all started when Miller was denied credit by a bank in 2009. So, she did what smart consumers do — Miller checked her credit report.
She found major errors on her Equifax credit report, ranging from erroneous accounts and collection attempts to having the wrong Social Security number and birthday on file.
It turns out that it was all a mix up because Equifax had another Julie Miller on file. Unfortunately, it took a court decision for Equifax to finally address the issue.
By law, credit bureaus have to review credit report errors. Miller contacted Equifax eight times between 2009 and 2011 to correct the numerous inaccuracies but Equifax ignored her.
Thus, she contacted attorneys who brought the case to court. Miller was awarded nearly $18.6 million in punitive and compensatory damages. Why so much money? Unfortunately, the errors in Miller’s credit report turned life into a nightmare — for Miller and the disabled brother in her care.
The Power of Credit Report Mishap
Imagine having a disabled brother who can’t get credit on his own. You’d want to do everything you could to help them out. Now imagine that a credit bureau makes some mistakes on your credit report and you can’t help out your disabled brother.
This nightmare scenario was the reality for Miller. She was denied credit by the bank and couldn’t help her brother, all because Equifax refused to adequately address errors on her credit report.
Justin Baxter, the attorney who tackled the case, told Oregon Live:
“There was damage to her reputation, a breach of her privacy, and the lost opportunity to seek credit. She has a brother who is disabled and who can’t get credit on his own and she wasn’t able to help him.”
Only after the law stepped in was Miller able to have the credit errors fixed. Her story really shows how important it is to regularly check your credit score!
Check Your Credit Report Now
Unfortunately, errors on credit reports aren’t all that rare. A recent FTC study of 1,001 consumers found that 21% had errors on their credit report. 5% of those errors directly lead to those consumers being denied credit.
Without good credit, you can’t get a loan for a house or a car without sky-high ARP and interest rates. You won’t qualify for for low interest rate credit cards and you may also be denied apartment rental contracts or job offers.
The lesson here? Check your credit report as often as possible!
Consumers can receive 1 free annual credit report every 12 months from www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Aside from that, each of the three main credit bureaus offers 1 free credit report a year.
Check them out periodically every year and let the credit bureaus know of anything unusual. The sooner you catch errors, the better.
What Do You Think?
Have you ever found any errors on your credit report? Were they easy to correct or did you have to jump through multiple hoops first? Let us know in the comments section!
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