NORTH LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Mistakes happen. But it's a major inaccuracy by a credit card company that recently hurt one Las Vegas family. 13 Action News anchor Tricia Kean has more on credit reporting problems and how to fix them.
"I've never bought a house before. I didn't think it would be this stressful," says Mike Rader.
CREDIT SCORE TANKED
He and his wife are in the market for a new home. The first-time homebuyers are applying for a mortgage and keeping a close eye on their credit. But back in March...
"I saw my credit score just tank," says Mike.
Mike pulled up his credit report looking for answers.
"And found a balance of nearly $16 million," says Mike.
But the $16 million debt was just the tip of the iceberg. Mike read the credit report to his wife, who didn't believe it.
"She said no way. You're reading that incorrectly. There's got to be something wrong here. I said maybe so, because this other credit bureau is reporting almost $28 million on that same account," says Mike.
Just to be clear, Mike isn't a millionaire. He's renting in a modest North Las Vegas neighborhood. And the credit card he allegedly racked up millions on, only has a $3,000 limit.
"How do you wrap your head around having a credit of $3,000 on some card and suddenly owing between 16 and 28 million," says Mike.
CALLED CREDIT CARD
Hoping to correct the issue as quickly as possible, Mike called his credit card company. But they told him it was an issue with the credit bureaus. So he called the credit bureaus.
"They all said we only go off the data that's provided to us by the bank," says Mike.
Both sides were pointing fingers at each other and Mike was getting frustrated!
"So I'm working hard to fix a problem that someone else created for me, and it feels really unfair," says Mike.
On top of that, Mike had to put his mortgage application on hold until the problem is fixed.
"It's very common for people to have mistakes on their credit report," says Peter Aldous, Consumer Rights Attorney with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.
He says these mistakes happen and it's your responsibility to fix it. The good news is, there are procedures in place to help.
"If you find an error in your credit report you need to file a dispute. That's simply sending a letter to the credit reporting agency saying this information is incorrect," says Aldous.
The Federal Trade Commission offers a sample letter you can use on its website. Once the credit bureau receives your letter, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires an investigation within 30 days. If the issue still isn't fixed, you have the right to take legal action.
"There is what they call a private right of action. You're right under the law to sue if they are reporting inaccurate information and they're not correcting it," says Aldous.
He says if you win your case, the law requires the loser to pay your attorney fees. As for Mike, his credit reporting issue has been fixed. But he's still waiting for his credit score to rebound.
"In a lot of ways I feel helpless. How do I manage a credit score when they can just so easily make a mistake... The takeaway for me is, the best defense is being hyper vigilant about monitoring for any of those errors," says Mike.
Remember you have the right to get your credit report for free once a year. Even better, because of the pandemic the credit bureaus are offering free weekly credit reports through April of 2022.