Acknowledging the growing impact that credit histories have on consumers' financial lives, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is stepping in to help people fight problems with their credit reports.
The consumer watchdog agency, launched last year in the wake of the financial crisis, on Monday began taking complaints and offering assistance with such issues as errors on a credit report, improper use of a credit report, problems with fraud alerts and being unable to get a copy of a credit file or score.
"Credit reporting companies exert great influence over the lives of consumers. They help determine eligibility for loans, housing and sometimes jobs," said the consumer bureau's director, Richard Cordray. "Consumers need an avenue of recourse when they feel they have been wronged."
People who believe there is a mistake on their credit report or have an issue with an investigation should first file a dispute with the credit reporting company, which preserves some consumer rights, the consumer bureau said.
Consumers not satisfied with the outcome can then use the original dispute case number to file a complaint with the bureau. People will receive a tracking number after submitting a complaint that they can use to check the status of their case.
Consumers are encouraged to check for errors on their credit reports by taking advantage of a federal law that entitles them to free copies annually from each of the three main credit reporting companies. Free reports can be ordered at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling toll-free 1-877-322-8228.
Besides credit reports, the consumer bureau handles complaints on credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts, consumer loans and private student loans.
To file a complaint, visit www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint or call toll-free at 1-855-411-2372.
Patricia Sabatini: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3066.