What if I Find Mistakes in My Credit Report in Maryland?
Get to know the state and federal laws protecting consumer credit historyBy Doug Mentes, Esq. | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on November 28, 2023
Use these links to jump to different sections:
- Your Consumer Rights Under Maryland’s Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act
- Your Consumer Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
- Find an Experienced Lawyer
Consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) such as Experian, Transunion, and Equifax maintain credit files and provide credit scores for hundreds of millions of Americans. These major credit bureaus and smaller credit agencies have many obligations under Maryland state law and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for the credit information they keep.
Your Consumer Rights Under Maryland’s Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act
Maryland’s Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act guarantees Maryland residents certain consumer rights in their credit information, including:
- The right to request that credit reporting agencies (CRAs) restrict the sale or transfer of information in your credit file for marketing purposes;
- The right to receive an exact copy of any consumer file that a CRA has on you;
- The right to disclosure of information in your credit file during normal business hours (in person, by telephone, or in writing);
- The right to dispute errors or the incompleteness of information in your consumer file;
- The right to have inaccurate information removed from your file and to receive written confirmation of correction of the disputed item;
- The right to file a statement explaining your dispute in your consumer file if the reinvestigation fails to resolve the dispute;
- The right to not be charged for the information you requested.
If you are dissatisfied with the results of the dispute process with the credit reporting agency, you can file a written complaint, along with supporting documentation, with Maryland’s Office of Financial Regulation.
Your Consumer Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) also protects consumers against errors in their credit history:
1. Permissible Purposes
The CRAs provide credit reports to “users” of the information, including credit card companies, lenders, insurance companies, and employers. Users must promise the CRA that the information will only be used for “permissible” purposes, which generally include:
- Raising credit limits or opening credit accounts;
- Collection of an account;
- Insurance underwriting; and
- Legitimate business need.
2. Excluded Information
The law requires that certain information be excluded from a credit report after a certain amount of time. For example, consumer bankruptcies can be reported for 10 years, and the maximum reporting time for most other negative information, such as civil suits or paid tax liens, is seven years.
3. CRA Dispute Procedures
Reporting incorrect information about a consumer is not necessarily a violation of the FCRA. Rather, CRAs are judged on their procedures, which must be reasonable and designed to avoid violations of the law.
CRAs must follow reasonable procedures to assure the maximum possible accuracy of the consumer’s information contained in their credit file. Inaccurate information within a credit report could be a violation of the FCRA, but the individual must know how or why the mistake was made in order to determine if the CRA failed to follow a reasonable procedure.
If a consumer notifies the CRA that they are disputing the completeness or accuracy of information contained in a file, reinvestigation by the CRA is required. In a reinvestigation, a CRA must:
- Assess no cost to consumer;
- Conduct a reasonable investigation;
- Determine whether the disputed information is inaccurate;
- Consider all relevant information submitted by the consumer in its investigation;
- Notify the “furnisher” of the disputed information;
- Record the current status of the disputed information or delete the item; and
- Complete within 30 days from the date it receives notice of the dispute from the consumer.
If, after the reinvestigation, the negative information remains on the consumer’s credit file, the consumer will be notified and provided an opportunity to obtain a free copy of your credit report.
Find an Experienced Lawyer
If they’re further concerned the CRA did not maintain proper procedures or has denied a request to remove the information requested, the consumer should discuss these concerns, the dispute process, and further information on credit report errors with an experienced Maryland consumer law attorney.
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