March 12, 2015 by Jim C.
There is a great deal of controversy and several lawsuits pertaining to FCRA law and the reporting and maintenance of data by data furnishers, such as collection agencies. As a collection agency that routinely furnishes data to the three major credit rating agencies (Trans Union, Experian and Equifax) we take our role in this process very seriously. We believe our data to be true and correct when it is furnished and placed into consumers’ files and reported to lenders. However, this does not mean that there are not instances were errors are made in the process.
At United Credit Service, Inc., we believe in the accuracy and integrity of consumer information reporting. We have policies and procedures in place so that we can be confident that our information is being correctly reported, and in most all cases, upon investigation it is.
Quite often we receive correspondence from consumers, and occasionally consumer attorneys, disputing the information we have furnished to the credit bureau. Along with the dispute, we usually get a threat of legal action should we not take immediate action to delete the disputed information from the consumer’s file, or provide proof of the debt which we are reporting. In many cases, this correspondence is received after the consumer has undertaken the dispute resolution process of the credit bureau that houses and reports the information to credit grantors.
This dispute resolution process includes what is called (ACDV) Automated Consumer Dispute Verification, which is triggered at the time a consumer files a dispute of a debt with the credit bureau. The consumer can dispute the debt for a number of reasons, a few of the more common reasons we see are: “The debt is not mine” and “The debt is paid”. Upon a consumer dispute being filed at the credit bureau that debt is “frozen” and cannot be updated until the dispute is responded to by the furnisher of information or 30 days has elapsed. The data furnisher has a 30 day period to do a diligent investigation of the dispute and make a report back to the credit bureau as to the status. If that 30 day period lapses with no response by the data furnisher the credit bureau is required to delete the debt from the consumer’s file.
The process of receiving, making updates to credit records and responses to consumer disputes is done thru a web based entity known as e-OSCAR (Online Solution for Complete and Accurate Reporting), which is a browser based Metro2 complaint system developed by the credit rating agencies as an online solution for data furnishers to process Automated Consumer Dispute Verifications (ACDVs) as well as Automated Universal Data forms (AUDs). AUDs are necessary when the data furnisher finds it necessary to update a credit record quicker than the regular activity reporting cycle process, usually incorporated with the data furnishers’ monthly collection remittance process. A for instance would be where it is necessary to have a record reflected as “paid” so the consumer information is being reported correctly to a lender. In some instances a lender requires this in order to make a favorable lending decision. We may also find a debt being reported in the wrong consumer record and would want this to be corrected as quickly as possible when we become aware of this situation.
Getting back to the ACDV process, the data furnisher will do their investigation as to the disputed debt and make a report back through the e-OSCAR system. This report will update all three bureaus that house and report this data to lenders. It’s not instantaneous, but the process works well to insure that credit records are being reported accurately and updated timely. E-OSCAR is not available to anyone other than registered data furnishers, therefore a consumer cannot access their credit file to make any changes to information contained therein (for obvious reasons). Only the data furnisher and the credit bureaus have the ability to change/update/delete data from a file. In order for the data furnisher to make an accurate response to a dispute the information and circumstances would be analyzed by the data furnisher to make a decision on a response. This may entail contacting the original creditor to verify their information obtained at the time the debt was originated. Information, such as: address, names, birthdates, Social Security numbers (where legally allowed) would be compared to that of the consumer who has made the dispute. In the case where a dispute is based on the debt being paid, the creditor would be asked to verify if their records reflect receipt of payment. The data furnisher will then respond to the ACDV when the investigation has concluded and information has been verified. Again, the process allows for a 30 day response period, but we try to respond as quickly as possible and usually within 5-7 business days.
It is important for consumers to know what is contained in their credit records and to limit the derogatory information. To this end, the consumer should periodically check their credit record and question any unknown information. This is not to say dispute everything, but investigate and communicate with the data furnishers, whomever they may be, to determine where a problem may exist with the information. Not all data furnishers are collection agencies, some are mortgage lenders, credit card companies, retailers, and utility providers to name the most prevalent. Payment habits of the consumer go a long way in establishing a good credit record and reputation, whereby a lender would be confident in a positive lending decision, and at a reasonable interest rate.
Creditors base their lending decisions on several factors with emphasis on credit history. Does your history show that you pay your debts? And do you pay timely? If so, you will likely be able to obtain credit and at a very favorable interest rate.
Jim Cox is vice-president and co-owner of United Credit Service, Inc.
Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service, licensed revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Visit our website at http://www.unitedcreditservice.com or call 877-723-2902.