The woman, Julie Miller, won $180,000 in compensatory damages and a staggering $18.4 million in punitive damages for her terrifying credit saga, which lasted from 2009 to 2011.
Oregon Resident Wins Verdict Against Credit Reporting Agency
According to a report from The Oregonian, Equifax ignored several errors on Miller’s credit report, including false accounts, glaring inaccuracies, and bogus collection attempts. In addition, the credit bureau—one of three major reporting agencies in the United States—placed the wrong Social Security number and birthday on Miller’s account.
But according to Miller’s successful credit fraud lawsuit, the Atlanta-based company repeatedly failed to correct the glaring errors on her report, despite the fact that Miller made eight different attempts between 2009 and 2011 to convince the credit bureau to fix her report. Miller also noted in her lawsuit that the two other credit bureaus had managed to fix the errors in her report.
According to Miller’s consumer debt attorney, Equifax’s prolonged failure to remedy the errors caused “damage to her reputation, a breach of her privacy, and a lost opportunity to seek credit.” In addition, thanks to the credit saga, Miller was unable to get money to care for her disabled brother, who can’t get credit on his own.
Credit Reporting Errors Affect Millions of Americans
Unfortunately, Miller’s credit nightmare isn’t an aberration. A recent study by the Federal Trade Commission found that 21 percent of consumer credit reports contain at least one error. And 5 percent of these errors were significant enough to cause consumers to be denied credit.
In addition, a 2012 investigation by an Ohio newspaper that researched roughly 30,000 consumer complaints discovered that credit bureaus often take several months to repair even basic errors. This, however, is a flagrant violation of federal law.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit bureaus must respond promptly to complaints about potential errors. And consumers have a right to one free report every year from each of the three major credit bureaus.