The credit reporting agencies do not always investigate credit disputes according to FCRA Rules and in such instances consumers have the right to request the method of verification. The process of handling credit disputes is similar among the three major credit reporting agencies, they use an online computer program for the re-investigation process called E-Oscar.
The E-Oscar method of investigation has automated the credit reporting agencies’ entire system. Every credit dispute received by them: written; online; or telephonically; is reduced to a two-digit code, even if you submit a written dispute with supporting documentation.
According to the FCRA, the credit reporting agencies are required to forward the dispute information to the furnisher of the account (original creditor); but, the credit reporting agencies only forward the two-digit code according to their automated E-Oscar system.
How the Method of Verification Works
If you get a response to your dispute from the credit reporting agency saying the disputed item was “verified” you have the right to request the “method of verification” under the FCRA, Section 611 (a)(6) and (7). The credit reporting agency must give you the method of verification information within 15 days of your request.
The method of verification is a powerful tool against the credit reporting agencies. You may have to threaten to sue or even actually sue them if they refuse to sufficiently comply with your request for method of verification. Don’t worry, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) laws are on your side.
Long Version of Requesting the Method of Verification
- Send a dispute letter, along with any documentation or proof, to the credit reporting agency challenging the negative item. Send this dispute letter certified mail, return receipt since you may have to submit this information in a lawsuit if you do not get the desired results.
- If the dispute returns verified by the credit reporting agency call them at the number listed on the credit report they just sent you. When speaking with the representative, give them the report number and request the “method of verification.” If you are speaking with a representative that is unfamiliar or plays clueless like they are unfamiliar with the method of verification, site FCRA, Section 611 (a)(6) and (7).
- It is highly likely the CRA did not contact the original creditor at all. A third party database may have been used to verify the disputed item, which is insufficient. Request hard evidence such as the name, address and telephone number of anyone from the original creditor they contacted. The CRA probably cannot provide you with the information.
- Contact the original creditor and request the documentation or records they used to verify the disputed credit item. You may have to speak with a supervisor or manager at this point. If they cannot provide you with any records to support the disputed credit item, get their name and direct line number. If they have the records used to support the disputed item, under the FACT Act, you can demand a copy.
- If you are sent any documentation or records, review them and determine whether or not they sufficiently support the credit reporting agencies’ reporting. Continue with the following steps if the records are insufficient or they have no records.
- Call the credit reporting agency and let them know the original creditor has no records or has insufficient records and do the following:
- Request a new dispute based upon the name and number of the person you spoke with at the original creditor
- If the CRA refuses to open a new dispute, inform them you will file a lawsuit for willful non-compliance under FCRA, Section 616 and follow through with a letter requesting a new dispute, along with your supporting documentation and include an “intent to sue.”
- If they comply with the request for a new dispute, keep record of the new confirmation number, date and the person at the CRA you spoke with. This is your new dispute and the CRA has 30 days to conduct a real investigation.
After the 30 days has passed the CRA will send you the result of the new investigation. If the disputed item remains, it is time to get tough with the CRA. Send an Intent to Sue Letter, certified letter, return receipt and give them 10 days. After the 10 days file your lawsuit in small claims court or contact a consumer law attorney. NACA.net has a nationwide database of consumer law attorneys, very familiar with FCRA violations.
Short Version of Requesting the Method of Verification
Request the credit reporting agencies send you the following:
(a) The name of the creditor;
(b) The person’s name they verified the dispute with;
(c) The address;
(d) The telephone number; and
(e) The documentation used to verify the dispute.
The CRA’s must respond to your request within 15 days and provide the information. If they do not respond, they are in violation of the FCRA and you can sue or just threaten to sue and see if you can get the negative listing deleted.