Photo (cc) by AMagill
Errors on your credit report can cost you access to loans, better interest rates, or even a job. Sometimes, though, they can make you millions of dollars.
A jury has awarded Oregon resident Julie Miller $18.6 million from credit reporting agency Equifax after finding that the company failed — for two years — to correct an incorrect Social Security number, birth date and collection accounts, OregonLive.com says.
A lawyer for Miller told the website she missed out on credit opportunities, her reputation was damaged, and she was unable to help her disabled brother because of the credit report errors.
Miller first discovered the problem in late 2009, court records say. A bank denied her credit, so she was entitled to a free credit report and asked Equifax for one. After more than a year of back and forth, with Equifax sending the same uncorrected report and the same form letter several times, she sued in October 2011.
Ideally, Miller could have learned about the problem much sooner. Anyone can receive a free, instant credit report once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies through AnnualCreditReport.com. The Federal Trade Commission says one out of every five people has an error on at least one report, so you should make a habit of checking them and getting mistakes fixed.
While being proactive can’t make other people do their jobs right, it doesn’t hurt. Check out the video below to learn about signs you might be headed for financial trouble.
The other credit reporting agencies also had erroneous information about Miller, OregonLive.com says, but they corrected it at her request. It may be one of the largest awards ever given to a consumer in a case against one of the nation’s major credit bureaus, the site adds, but Miller is certainly not the only one who couldn’t get mistakes fixed fast. A study from last year of nearly 30,000 complaints in 24 states found it often takes months.