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What can I do about a problem on my credit report?

Produced by Mariah Jennings-Rampsi, South Coastal Counties Legal Services, with funding from American College of Bankruptcy
Reviewed October 2019

If your credit report is wrong, write a letter to ask the credit reporting agency (CRA, agency) to investigate. The agency must investigate your claim within 30 business days. The agency will ask the creditor to review its records. If the agency thinks your claim is “frivolous or irrelevant,” it does not have to investigate. If the credit reporting agency learns the credit report was wrong, it must correct your report.1 You can use the “investigate my report” letter.

If you disagree with the results of the CRA’s investigation, write a short statement. In the statement, explain why you disagree with the report. The CRA must include your statement each time it sends out your credit report. 2

Negative information can only be on your credit report for a certain amount of time.

  • Credit card debt must come off your report after 7 years.
  • Bankruptcy filings must come off your credit report after 10 years. 3 
  • When the court orders that you owe money, it is called a judgment. Judgments must come off your credit report after 20 years.

Learn more with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Disputing Errors on Your Credit Report Handout.

If you are a survivor of a “severe form of trafficking” or “sex trafficking” you can soon 4 stop a consumer reporting agency (CRA) from reporting credit information that came from or was part of the trafficking.5

To remove the information, collect “trafficking documentation”:

  • A government or court determination that you are a survivor of trafficking; and
  • Documents showing that the information the CRA reported was from or part of severe trafficking or sex trafficking.6

Give the “trafficking documentation” to the CRA.

You can also sue if the CRA and creditor do not follow the law by properly reporting your credit information.  You can sue the CRA and creditor if the CRA:

  • does not investigate your non-frivolous and non-irrelevant claim, or
  • does not fix the problem after you asked them to do so.

Find a consumer lawyer. You may be able to get one for free from legal services.

Endnotes

1 M.G.L. c. 93, §58

2 M.G.L. c. 93, §58

3 M.G.L. c. 93, §52

4 Section 605C(c) of the FCRA (likely to be codified as 15 U.S.C. § 1681c-3) requires the CFPB to issue a rule implementing its provisions, including establishing a method for survivors to submit trafficking documentation to CRAs. Section 605C becomes effective thirty days after the CFPB issues a rule to implement it.

5 These terms are defined by reference to definitions found in section 103 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, 22 U.S.C. §§ 7101–7114. Section 103 of that Act defines ‘‘severe forms of trafficking in persons’’ as:(A) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or(B) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.22 U.S.C. § 7102(11). Section 103 also defines ‘‘sex trafficking’’ as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” 22 U.S.C. § 7102(12).

6 M.G.L. c. 93, §52

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