Oct 062008

What your clients need to know

Some clients attempt to fix their credit on their own by visiting the credit bureaus’ web sites and disputing online. This is incredibly tempting because the consumer can dispute trade lines from the comfort of his own home. But this convenience can have a very uncomfortable outcome.

While proceeding through the dispute process, the consumer is asked to check a box before moving forward. This is the Terms of Service box, and most people click it without thinking. A lot of sites have these terms, and generally people don’t bother to read this section. But on the credit bureaus’ sites, this section asks consumers to relinquish their legal rights under The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

One of the biggest and scariest parts of this section is the following condition: “Once an item has been verified by the credit grantor, you may not dispute the same item again without providing additional relevant information.”

This is in complete opposition to the FCRA, which says that consumers can dispute the accuracy of their credit reports as many times as they would like, and that the bureaus must reinvestigate each time. The FCRA is there to protect consumers’ rights, and the credit bureaus are trying to get around the law by forcing consumers to agree with these Terms of Service.

Not only do the Terms of Service remove the consumer’s right to multiple disputes, but they also don’t specify an end date. That means the consumer is banned from ever disputing the same trade line in the future. If the credit bureaus verify the original disputes, then the consumer is left with that negative trade line affecting his credit score. And he is left without any means to fight against that harmful information.

Make sure that all your friends, family and clients know that the credit bureaus’ Terms of Service require consumers to surrender their rights under the FCRA. Even if someone is trying to dispute something minor, by simply checking a box, he abandons his chance to achieve a positive resolution.

Douglas Muir, CEO

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