What Credit Repair Organizations should know about when credit reporting agencies may decline to investigate their dispute letters?
Credit repair organizations (“CROs”) have a pretty bad reputation. Well, some of them do and it’s enough to really tarnish the entire industry. Hell, Congress had to step in and create the Credit Repair Organization Act that severely regulated these guys and what they can do
Most recently, Experian has jumped on the bad wagon and has been pushing CROs around by refusing to respond to their dispute letters. Experian’s letters call the CRO letters “suspicious requests.” This is code for “Your freakin’ dispute letter was written by a CRO and we ain’t helping you!” So how is a CRO supposed to help people fix their credit? I mean if the CRA is going to ignore the CRO, then what’s a CRO to do?
Answer: The leading case is Klotz v Trans Union from the United States District Court – Eastern District of PA, case no 2:05-cv-4580. In Klotz, the court held that dispute letters that come from the consumer and NOT the credit repair company, are valid and may not be ignored. The court reasoned that the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires disputes to come from the consumer.
In Klotz, the CRO prepared the dispute for Klotz to sign and mail in. Klotz had no meaningful involvement in the disputes and frankly, was unaware of the fact that he had sent in two conflicting sets of disputes (Set 1 said that he had paid these debts and set two, sent several months later, said that the disputed items were not his). In any event, Klotz testified that he did not really look at what he was signing; he just signed and mailed them out to Trans Union. The Court held that because Klotz had no meaningful interaction with the dispute letters nor did he even have any understanding of the disputes, that these dispute letters were not made “by him” but rather, they were made by the CRO. Hence, Trans Union was fully within its rights to disregard Klotz’s dispute letters.
Best Advice to Credit Repair Organizations –
- Take a moment and sit with your client and go over each dispute in the dispute letter and the reason for it;
- Make sure the client understands the basis for each dispute and that the basis is legally sound;
- Don’t mail disputes into the credit reporting agencies yourself; have your client mail them in.
Had Klotz and his credit repair company done these things, the court would have found in his favor instead of Trans Unions. The court said as much in its opinion. The Klotz court has recognized the validity and work of credit repair organizations so long as they do their job and they are not merely mills.
If you or your clients have received one of these “suspicious requests” letters from Experian, don’t let them push you around. If your dispute letter to Experian contained valid disputes to trade lines and your client was aware of the nature of these disputes, then Experian has violated the law. Your clients are entitled to damages from Experian for blowing them off and refusing to investigate.
If you or your clients have received any such Experian “suspicious request” letters, call or email me, Attorney Gary Nitzkin for a free consultation at (888) 293-2882. The call is free and the advice is priceless.