Method of Verification is a Secret Credit Repair Tool
Everyone, it seems through mass media coverage, knows how to dispute negative credit listings on your credit report. This is a good thing. However, many people are foiled in their disputes because of the way the credit bureaus “investigate” the disputes.
If you get a notice from your the credit bureaus telling you the information you disputed has been verified as accurate, you can request the “Method of Verification” — which is your right under the FCRA section 611 (a) (7). The credit bureau must give you this information within 15 days of the request.
Why the CRAs are not Doing Their Job
Each credit reporting agency has a different process for handling credit report disputes, but all three use a similar system. The three bureaus collaborated through their trade organization to automate the entire reinvestigation process using an online computer program, E-Oscar.
All disputes received by the credit bureaus are done via written letter, the telephone or the credit bureaus online dispute service. Even if the credit bureau receives a written dispute highly detailed and with documentation, each dispute is reduced to a two-digit code – the best guess of a minimum wage employee.
Under the FCRA, the credit bureaus are required to send the information on to the furnisher of the consumer’s account (in other words, the original creditor), but all they receive is the two-digit code.
According to testimony from Leonard A. Bennett, Testimony Before Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit of the Committee on Financial Services Regarding “Fair Credit Reporting Act: How it Functions for Consumers and the Economy,” June 4, 2003, Leonard A. Bennett P.C. on behalf of the National Association of Consumer Advocates (http://www.naca.net)
The employees of all three CRAs operate under a quota system whereby each employee is expected to process all of the disputes of an individual consumer in less than four minutes. Worse still, the “codes” used by both the CRAs and their subscribers (the furnishers) are limited in number and rarely describe the actual basis for the consumer’s dispute.
This is consistent with CRA testimony in every other case of which I am aware. The Bureaus do not convey the full dispute or forward any of the documents to the furnishers. As an expected result, nearly all consumer disputes are verified against the consumers.
Based on my own experience and what I learned, I came up with the following procedure which seems to be working for people.
- Challenge the listing in the normal way.
- If verified, with a copy of the investigation result in hand, call the CRA at the toll-free number listed at the top of the report. (If not, you’re done, you lucky dog!)
- Give the report reference number and ask for method of verification per FCRA Section 611(a)(7) .
- They will have never called the OC (original creditor), but will have relied on a third party database to verify, which they may or may not admit to you. If they can’t cite solid evidence like “we called the OC and they verified”, ask for OC’s phone number.
- Call OC and ask for the records.
- If the OC doesn’t have them (they will typically tell you that the collection agency has them and they don’t keep them), get the person’s name and direct line. If they do have them, demand a copy under the new FACTA act.
- If you are sent records, review them and see how good they are. If they are not conclusive, take the next step.
- If the OC has no records.
- Call the CRA back and tell them the OC has no records.
- Inform the CRA that they need to open another dispute. The new information for the dispute is the name and number of the person to whom you have just called at the OC.
- If they refuse, inform them you will sue for willful non-compliance under section FCRA § 616.
- If they still refuse, send the information via certified letter along with an intent to sue letter. If not, they will give you a new confirmation number (write it down! and the date!). This acts as a new investigation, and the CRA has 30 days to get back to you.
If you have written records proving the OC can’t back up the negative listing(s) they are reporting on your credit report send them registered mail to the CRA along with an intent to sue letter if the account is not removed.
Tags: Certified Letter, Codes, Collection Agency, CRA, Credit Repair, Credit Report, Credit Reporting Agency, Dispute Negative Credit, E-Oscar, FACTA Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, FCRA, Intent to Sue Letter, Investigation, Method of Verification, OC, Original Creditor, Secret Credit Repair Tool