Q. Thanks to your website and all the wonderful information! I was a victim of identity theft – my ex-husband put some of his accounts in my name. I have cleared all but one from my credit report.
I am fighting with a company and Experian over a medical bill that was signed by a superior court judge stating it was not my debt liability: it was my ex-husband’s.
I disputed the account with all three credit bureaus, sending them a copy of the certified decree showing it was not my debt. TransUnion and Equifax took it off immediately. Experian sent me a new copy of my credit report showing this item still remained. I then sent Experian’s investigation result and a copy of the decree to the medical company listing the account on my credit report. The medical company sent me back the original contract with my ex’s signature. They also updated my credit report as a new open collection account rather than reporting it as being disputed. I want to take both Experian and this company to small claims court.
My question is if a Superior court judge assigns liability of debts and the original contract doesn’t have my name on it, will the decree help me when I go to court to sue for violations?
A. The short answer to your question is “Yes, it will help!”
If you’ve already sent Experian proof that the account isn’t yours and they are still reporting, it’s my non-lawyer opinion that Experian is in willful non-compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) under 15 U.S.C. § 1681n, meaning they are knowingly refusing to obey the law. Likewise for the medical company who is reporting. Willful non-compliance is subject to a fine to recover damages up to $1000 plus attorney’s fees.
Even if it cannot be proven that Experian is in in willful non-compliance with the law, they are at minimum in negligent non-compliance with the FCRA under 15 U.S.C. § 1681o. It could be possible that whomever handled your previous dispute at Experian simply misread your dispute. The dispute process is often off-shored to non-native English speakers. Misreading your dispute is still negligence – mistakes do not alleviate their legal responsibility. Hopefully you have proof of your correspondence with them.
I think your next step is to send Experian an intent to sue letter. In this letter you cite the sections of the FCRA you think they are violating (I gave them to you above), and send them yet another copy of the decree plus your past correspondence to them. You need to make it clear you intend to take legal action if they will not remove the account.
If Experian does not remove the account, you may have to actually go ahead and sue Experian. However, you will probably not have to go this far. You have ironclad proof the account isn’t yours, and many people have had success sending intent to sue letters.
I might also suggest visiting a lawyer and see if he or she can write a strongly worded letter to the medical company. It might be worth the consultation fee.