An Oregon woman was recently awarded $18.6 million in what people are referring to as a “major consumer victory” against credit reporting giant, Equifax. She contacted Equifax eight times between 2009 and 2011 to get errors removed from her credit report. The incorrect information included a false name and social security number and debts that did not belong to her. She learned about the errors in 2009 when she was turned down for a bank loan she was attempting to get to help her disabled brother.
Her attorney argued these mistakes have cost his client “her reputation, was a breach of privacy and lost her opportunity to seek credit.” In many cases, credit report errors can even cost people employment opportunities.
While consumers are entitled to one free credit report from the Big Three (i.e. – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) every year, these three are also required to provide copies to consumers after they are denied credit. Equifax failed to do so in this case.
The jury awarded her $18.4 million in punitive damages and $180,000 in compensatory damages. Studies indicate that up to 21% of all credit reports contain some errors.
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