For many of us, our credit report is arguably the most important aspect of our financial lives. It can affect whether or not we receive a loan to buy a house or start a new business. It can even affect whether or not a potential employer decides to hire us. There are numerous companies in existence to provide us with access to our credit score so we can keep track of and control this important record. It is no wonder, therefore, that a person would take it very seriously if they found out that there were mistakes on their credit report.
That is exactly what happened to Julie Miller of Marion County, Oregon. Miller claims she made at least eight attempts between 2009 and 2011 to reach out to Equifax to correct errors she found on her credit report. Miller says she had done the same with two other credit reporting agencies and they had had no problems responding to her requests. For some reason though, Equifax allegedly refused to budge on the issue.
Miller’s complaint was far more serious than a mere misspelled name or an incorrect address. Her credit report allegedly contained credit accounts which she says she never opened, as well as debt collection attempts and a Social Security number which did not belong to her. Just one of these errors by itself would be enough to cause severe damage to anyone’s credit score, let alone all of them at once.
Miller’s attorney, Justin Baxter, told Oregon Live that these mistakes on her credit report resulted in “damage to her reputation, a breach of privacy and the lost opportunity to seek credit”. Baxter also said that Miller has a brother who is disabled and unable to get credit on his own. Because of these persistent errors on her credit report, Miller was unable to help him.
After spending years fruitlessly trying to get Equifax to correct the information on her credit report, Miller has finally received justice at the hands of the law. A long battle in federal court has recently resulted in an order for Equifax to pay Miller $18 million in damages. This is one of the largest awards in history against a credit agency.
While the court’s decision is undoubtedly a huge victory for Miller, the lawsuit provides an example of the very disjointed world of credit reporting in our country today. A recent report by the Federal Trade Commission found errors on the credit reports of as many as one in five consumers. Only 20% of people who disputed errors ever saw them corrected.
The frightening aspect of these allegations against Equifax is that Miller did everything she was supposed to do. Once she was aware of the problems on her credit report, she contacted all three credit bureaus to ask for the necessary corrections. She also asked them for copies of her credit report.
Obviously, the goal behind these kinds of lawsuits is not only the award in damages for the plaintiffs, but to encourage credit bureaus to take complaints from customers seriously. Whether or not that goal has been achieved here has yet to be determined. At the moment, Equifax is preparing to appeal the verdict.
Our Chicago libel attorneys concentrate in this area of the law. We have defended or prosecuted a number of defamation and libel cases including cases representing a high profile athlete against a well known radio shock jock, a consumer sued by a large car dealer in federal court for negative internet reviews and videos, one of Loyola University’s largest contributors when the head basketball coach sued him for libel after he was fired, a lawyer who was falsely accused of committing fraud with the false allegation published to the Dean of the University of Illinois School of Law where the lawyer attended law school and the President of the University of Illinois.
Our Chicago defamation lawyers defend individuals’ First Amendment and free speech rights to post on Facebook, Yelp and other websites information that criticizes businesses and addresses matters of public concern. Our Chicago Cybersquatting attorneys also represent and prosecute claims on behalf of businesses throughout the Chicago area including in Lake Forest and Winnetka, who have been unfairly and falsely criticized by consumers and competitors in defamatory publications in the online and off line media. We have successfully represented businesses who have been the victim of competitors setting up false rating sites and pretend consumer rating sites that are simply forums to falsely bash or business clients. We have also represented and defended consumers First Amendment and free speech rights to criticize businesses who are guilty of consumer fraud and false advertising.
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Lubin Austermuehle’s Wheaton and Naperville litigation attorneys have more than two and half decades of experience helping business clients unravel the complexities of Illinois and out-of-state business laws. Our Chicago business, commercial, class-action and consumer litigation lawyers represent individuals, family businesses and enterprises of all sizes in a variety of legal disputes, including disputes among partners and shareholders as well as lawsuits between businesses and and consumer rights, auto fraud, and wage claim individual and class action cases. In every case, our goal is to resolve disputes as quickly and successfully as possible, helping business clients protect their investments and get back to business as usual. From offices in Oak Brook, near Naperville and Woodstock, we serve clients throughout Illinois and the Midwest.
If you are the victim of a defamatory attack on your business or a consumer who has been sued to stop you from posting criticism of a business on line at Yelp or anywhere else, contact one of our Oak Brook and Chicago defamation lawyers for a free consultation at (833) 306-4933 or online by filling out our contact us form.