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Procedure In Case of Disputed Accuracy

15 U.S.C.S. § 1681e(b) provides that the FCRA specifically requires that consumer reporting agencies follow reasonable procedures to assure the maximum possible accuracy of the information contained in the consumer report.  Pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 USCS § 1681i, if the completeness or accuracy of any item of information in his/her file is disputed by a consumer and such dispute is conveyed directly to the consumer reporting agency (“the agency”) by the consumer, the agency within 30 days shall reinvestigate and record the current status of information unless and until it has reasonable grounds to believe that the consumer’s dispute was frivolous or irrelevant.

In Gorman v. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94083 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 18, 2008), the court stated that “when the accuracy of a report is in dispute, 15 U.S.C.S. § 1681i outlines specific procedures that consumer reporting agencies must follow to ensure the proper reinvestigation of disputed information.”  The agency shall promptly delete such information if it is found inaccurate on reinvestigation.  Contradicting information contained in a consumer’s file does not in itself constitute reasonable ground to believe that the dispute is frivolous.

In Calloway v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC, 607 F. Supp. 2d 669 (D. Del. 2009), the court stated that as part of its reinvestigation, the agency should provide notice of the dispute to the information furnishers that provided the disputed information.

In Chiang v. Verizon New Eng., Inc., 595 F.3d 26 (1st Cir. Mass. 2010), the court stated that “15 U.S.C.S. § 1681s-2(a) prohibits any person from furnishing any information relating to a consumer to any consumer reporting agency if the person knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the information is inaccurate.  Congress expressly limited furnishers’ liability under § 1681s-2(a) by prohibiting private suits for violations of that portion of the statute.”

Depending on the circumstances, the period for reinvestigation shall be extended and such extended time shall not be more than 15 additional days.  However, extension of the period to reinvestigate shall not apply to any reinvestigation in which the information subject to such reinvestigation is found to be inaccurate, irrelevant or incomplete or if the agency finds that the information is unverifiable.

The agency shall provide notification of the dispute to any person who provided the information in dispute at the address and in the manner prescribed before the expiry of a five day business period beginning on the day on which the agency receives notice of a dispute from a consumer.  All necessary information relating to the dispute that the agency has collected from the consumer shall be included in the notice.  The agency shall provide all relevant information relating to the dispute received from the consumer to the person who provided the disputed information, after the 5 business day period and before the expiry of 30 days period.  In Chiang v. Verizon New Eng., Inc., 595 F.3d 26 (1st Cir. Mass. 2010), the court stated that although a consumer may dispute credit information directly to a furnisher, the consumer has no private right of action if the furnisher does not reasonably investigate the consumer’s claim after direct notification.

The agency shall terminate a reinvestigation if there is reasonable ground to believe that the dispute by the consumer is frivolous or irrelevant or if the consumer fails to provide sufficient information to investigate the disputed information.  Upon determination of the frivolous nature of the claim, the agency shall notify, by mail or other means, the consumer of such determination before the 5  business day period.

The notice shall include reasons for determination that the claim is frivolous and identification of information required to investigate the disputed information.  This may be in a standard form detailing the general nature of such information.

After reinvestigation of a consumer’s disputed information, if a part or item of information is found to be inaccurate or unverifiable, the agency shall delete that specific part or item of information from the file or modify it as appropriate based on reinvestigation, and notify furnisher of that information that the information is deleted or modified from the file of the consumer.

Any deleted information shall not be reinserted unless and until the furnisher of information certifies that such information is complete and accurate.  Upon reinsertion, the agency shall notify the consumer about such reinsertion in writing or by any other available means, which may not take longer than the five business day period.  Any additional information also shall be conveyed to the consumer in the same manner.  Such notification shall include:

  • A statement about the reinsertion of the disputed information;
  • The business name, telephone number and address of any furnisher of information contacted or the telephone number of any furnisher of information that contacted the consumer reporting agency relating to the reinsertion of such information;
  • A notice stating the consumer’s right to add a statement in relation to the consumer’s file disputing the accuracy or completeness of the disputed information.

The agency shall maintain such procedures in order to prevent reappearance of deleted information in a consumer’s file.  An automated reinvestigation system shall be implemented by the agency which complies and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis.  Through such automated system, furnishers of information to the agency shall report the results of a reinvestigation which finds incomplete or inaccurate information in a consumer’s file to other such consumer reporting agencies.

The agency shall provide a written notice to the consumer about the reinvestigation results not later than 5 business days and after completion of the reinvestigation, by mail or other available means.  The notice shall include:

  • a statement about the completion of reinvestigation;
  • a consumer report based upon the consumer’s file which is revised due to reinvestigation;
  • a notice about the description of procedure used to determine the accuracy and completeness of information that shall be provided by the agency to the consumer upon his/her request, including the business name and address of any furnisher of information contacted in relation to such information along with his/her telephone number if available;
  • a notice stating the consumer’s right to add a statement to the consumer’s file disputing the accuracy or completeness of the information; and
  • a notice stating the consumer’s right to request the agency to furnish notifications.

The agency shall provide to consumer a description of reinvestigation procedure no longer than 15 days after receiving a request from the consumer for such description.

If the dispute is not resolved by a reinvestigation then the consumer may file a brief statement describing the nature of the dispute.  The statement should be limited to one hundred words if it helps the consumer in writing a clear summary of the dispute.  Unless the statement is found frivolous or irrelevant, the agency shall provide notification of consumer dispute in subsequent consumer reports.  If any information found to be inaccurate,unverifiable ,or disputed is deleted, the agency shall provide notification of such deletion of disputed information.

Inside Procedure In Case of Disputed Accuracy