A jury has ordered Equifax to pay an unprecedented eighteen million dollars to an Oregon woman who spent over two years trying to get her credit report corrected.
After being denied for credit, the woman discovered inaccuracies in her credit report. As consumers are generally instructed to do, she contacted Equifax to have the information corrected. The other two credit report companies corrected her information, but Equifax did not. According to testimony in the case, after sending over eight requests, the woman was informed that her information had been mixed up with someone else’s and that the company was unable to help her. The mix up meant that her personal information, including her social security number, had been shared with others.
As a result of her credit report not being corrected, the woman was unable to get credit when she needed to help her family. The jury awarded her $180,000 in compensatory damages and $18.4 million in punitive damages. It is expected that Equifax will appeal the verdict.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit reporting agencies to maintain reasonable procedures that ensure maximum possible accuracy, but errors can still show up on credit reports. Consumers are encouraged to view their credit report at least once every twelve months. If there is an error on the report, the consumer must notify the credit company and the credit company must conduct an investigation. Many times, the larger credit companies spend very small amounts of time investigating errors which can cause a consumer to have to submit a second dispute. Consumers who have repeatedly tried to have their credit reports corrected and have been unsuccessful are entitled to seek legal action under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.