Credit Bureau incompetents must pay $18.6 million after failing for two years to correct woman’s credit rating

A jury Friday awarded an Oregon woman $18.6 million after she spent two years unsuccessfully trying to get Equifax Information Services to fix major mistakes on her credit report…

Julie Miller of Marion County, who was awarded $18.4 million in punitive and $180,000 in compensatory damages, contacted Equifax eight times between 2009 and 2011 in an effort to correct inaccuracies, including erroneous accounts and collection attempts, as well as a wrong Social Security number and birthday. Yet over and over, the lawsuit alleged, the Atlanta-based company failed to correct its mistakes.

“There was damage to her reputation, a breach of her privacy and the lost opportunity to seek credit,” said Justin Baxter, the Portland attorney who teamed on the case with his father and law partner, Michael Baxter. “She has a brother who is disabled and who can’t get credit on his own and she wasn’t able to help him…”

A Federal Trade Commission study earlier this year of 1,001 consumers who reviewed 2,968 of their credit reports found 21 percent contained errors. The survey, which is required as part of a 2003 law, found that 5 percent of the errors represented issues that would lead consumers to be denied credit…

Miller first discovered a problem when she was denied credit by a bank in early December 2009. She alerted Equifax and filled out multiple forms faxed by the credit agency seeking updated information…

The issue wasn’t a result of identify theft, Baxter said. Instead, the information from another “Julie Miller” had simply been placed in the plaintiff’s record by mistake. In at least one case, the lawsuit alleged, the plaintiff’s private financial information was sent to companies inquiring about the other Julie Miller.

Credit bureaus are probably the least competent class of firm that gets to dither with your financial life. The average Mafia loan shark does a better job of record keeping.

Though both are roughly comparable when it comes to screwing over your life.

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