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Mistakes on credit reports can cause serious problems too

A bad credit score can affect the ability to open a checking account in Ohio, find an apartment to rent, get a new car and in some cases it can even affect the ability to be seriously considered for a certain job. For those with insurmountable debt, bad credit can be an issue that seems to compound financial problems.

Bankruptcy is one way to wipe the slate clean and get the fresh start that is often needed for individuals or families to work to repair their credit. This can be a stressful experience, but what happens when mistakes on a credit report are hindering credit and the credit reporting company refuses to work to correct the mistakes? For one woman, it meant an $18.6 million jury award. 

The incident occurred outside of Ohio, in the jurisdiction of Oregon, but the credit abuses could -- and do -- happen in every state. In fact, a study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission found that 21 percent of the credit reports included in the study contained errors. 

In this case, the woman said that Equifax Information Services had made several errorors on her credit report. These errors are ones that not only bring down a credit score but cause other problems as well. 

Not only was the wrong Social Security number and birthday associated with her credit report, but there were also several erroneous reports of collection attempts and accounts that did not even belong to her name. 

How did the woman learn of these mistakes? She was denied credit when she attempted to open an account with a bank in 2009. She took every appropriate step suggested by Equifax to correct the reporting errors, but each of these went unaddressed. 

After eight unanswered contact attempts spanning two years, the woman called it quits and filed a lawsuit against Equifax. The jury determined that this inattention amounted to the multi-million dollar compensatory and punitive damages award. 

Source: Collections & Credit Risk, "Oregon Woman Awarded $18.6M for Credit Report Errors," July 31, 2013

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