One of the most stunning and nefarious things that can happen on the internet is the way people repackage content and spread it throughout the web as though it were their original content. In 2007, I penned the article you see below for N.A.C.R.A., The National Association for Credit Responsibility and Advocacy, of which I was the founder and creator of, titled “3 Reasons Why You Should Never Dispute Credit Errors Online”.
As you can also see in the photo where the red arrow is pointing, I was surprised to find it available at .docstoc, a reputable electronic document repository and online store. Of course, I made an immediate complaint with their copyright department and filed an online Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice of copyright infringement and take-down request.
As you might imagine, upon doing a Google search for the title of the article and various sentences located within the article, I pulled up several people quoting the article verbatim. I mean, they didn’t even bother changing a single word! As far as I’m concerned, when you are trying to educate the public about any issue, chances are very high, unless you wrote the book…you didn’t write the book!
Meaning, throughout my videos and various writings, I will undoubtedly quote various experts and trusted authorities when discussing my topic. For instance, there are many times I may quote legal testimony from a deposition given under oath by recognized experts in the Fair Credit Reporting Act like Evan Hendricks. I do not repackage his content; rather, I tell you where I learned the information I’m writing about, so you can do your own research. Oh, by the way; Evan did write the book. It’s called “Credit Scores & Credit Reports; How The System Really Works, What You Can Do.”
If you haven’t already done so, I ask that you please read my post titled, “Who Can You Trust When Taking Credit and Financial Advice”, and please read my Disclaimer below my About page to read what I claim, and do not claim, to be. So without further ado, here is the updated version of my original report from 2007.
3 Reasons You Should Never Dispute Credit Errors Online
Reason Number One: Time
One important factor you have on your side when disputing errors in your credit report is time. By law, the credit bureaus have 30 days within receipt of that dispute to properly investigate your claim. However, this only applies to reports other than one obtained for free at annualcreditreport.com. In that case, the credit bureaus have 45 days to respond. If you didn’t know this fact, you need to watch my free video series; the Better Credit Blueprint.
Reason Number Two: Shortcut The Process
The Credit Bureaus online dispute system is set up in such a way that when you use it, it makes their job that much easier. The information you put into their limited dispute fields falls right into their electronic verification system. By using their online dispute system (E‐OSCAR), you have no proof of the dispute or a paper trail that certified return receipt requested would give you if you had mailed that dispute. An important aspect of accelerating the credit recovery process is keeping meticulous records.
If you catch the credit bureaus in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act or a collection company in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you’ll have the necessary ammunition to beat them in court and clear your good name should you have to go that route.
Reason Number Three: Revision Not In Your Favor
When the Fair Credit Reporting Act was revised by FACTA, they put in a section for “Expedited Dispute Resolution” Section 611a(8), also known as the on‐line dispute system. If you read this section, you will notice the following;
Well paragraph 2 is the part that requires the CRA to forward your dispute and all related documentation you provide to the creditor or company furnishing the information to the bureau. Paragraph 6 is the part that requires the CRA to provide you with written results of the re-investigation. And paragraph 7 is the part that requires the CRA to provide you with the method of verification on request by you, the consumer.
So as you can see, by using the CRA’S online disputing system (E‐OSCAR), which by the way stands for Electronic Online System for Complete and Accurate Reporting (ha ha ha), you wouldn’t receive a notice from the credit bureaus telling you that the information you disputed has been verified as accurate, which, by receiving this notice is what allows you to request the method of verification (MOV). The credit bureau then must provide you with this information within 15 days of your request.
As you can see, Method of Verification is another important tool to use and a very important part of accelerating the process of credit recovery should you need to delete an item discovered to be in error, incomplete, or unverifiable during the “Credit Audit and Verification” process. So why would you give these rights up; voluntarily no less?
Additionally, the law is not specific enough and does not say “permanently delete or suppress”; herein lays the problem. The Credit Reporting Agencies (CRA) can “soft delete” a disputed trade line for 30 days and then the trade line can reappear when the furnisher (creditor or collector) reports it again in the next 30 day cycle. This is due to the fact that the CRA’s are not required to tell the creditor or collector that you disputed it at all, thanks to the “shall not be required to comply with paragraphs 2” if you decide to dispute an item online. Are you getting all of this?
Elementary, my dear Watson
As Sherlock Holmes would say, “Sleight of hand is afoot!” This is a deceptive system in where we, the Amateur Consumer, think we may have succeeded in our dispute and gotten what is known as a “hard delete”, but in fact, it is only temporary. Since the creditor or furnisher of that information does not know the item was deleted, they will mistakenly re‐report it and then conveniently, the credit bureau will place the negative item back on your report. And if that isn’t bad enough, you lose the hard copy of the investigation results you would otherwise have received and been entitled to if the dispute had been sent via certified mail in the first place.
Again, by disputing in writing, as the FTC states you should on their website, the bureaus might temporarily remove a negative item (soft delete) until the information is verified as true but…if the information is verified to be true, they must then notify you in writing within 5 days of putting the item back on your credit report. If they don’t, it’s a violation of the FCRA and you could potentially sue them for $1,000.
Listen To The FTC
Look, there’s a reason why the FTC states right there on its website that you should dispute EVERY item you think is not accurate, incomplete, or unverifiable on your credit in writing and by certified mail, “return receipt requested”; it’s because you are protected as a consumer and by disputing online electronically, you lose many rights under FCRA. So why would you ever do this? The answer for anyone reading this blog post should be; I will never dispute an item in my credit report online so repeat after me: Now I know better! At the end of the day, the moral of the story is; Gain knowledge, become confident, and become a better, more informed consumer moving forward.
Less than 12 hours after filing my Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice of copyright infringement and take-down request with .docstoc about my original N.A.C.R.A. report in 2007, I received an email from their copyright department informing that they had in fact, removed the document from their website. Below is a copy of the email as well as a screenshot showing the document removed from their site.
All’s Well That Ends Well
As I have written in previous posts; all’s well that ends well, and this ended well. I have no idea how much money this character made off my report since it was downloaded over 1200 times, but it is what it is. I thank docstoc for taking it down so quickly and want everyone reading this post to know that I absolutely do not mind anyone sharing what they learn from any of my posts or from my free Better Credit Blueprint video series. That’s the idea, isn’t it? To share your knowledge and make a greater difference. Just don’t try to pass it on as your own