Woman sues Equifax, wins $18M
July 30, 2013 -- This is a story that gives some hope to anyone who's ever gotten tangled up with a credit company.
Julie Miller did everything she could to convince Equifax her credit was good. When they wouldn't fix their mistakes, she won big in court -- $18.6 million.
"There were all kinds of incorrect information, like 40 debt collectors and incorrect SSN and birth date," Miller said.
Eight times between 2009 and 2011, Miller says she contacted credit bureau Equifax, diligently filling out paperwork, even highlighting mistakes. But after all that, she claims Equifax still never corrected the errors.
"Several times they mailed a standard form that they have that was requesting more information," Miller said. "But there was no change to any of the information."
She says the errors cost her credit at two banks. So she finally sued the credit bureau. An Oregon jury says she's now entitled to one of the biggest settlements ever: an $18.6 million award.
"I was shocked by the settlement," she said.
Experts say credit bureaus should listen up.
"To me, is a message to credit bureaus to get info straight because consumers know how important it is and are doing a good job of being on top of info," said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com.
Equifax won't say whether it disputes Miller's claims, but told ABC News: "We are very disappointed in the jury verdict and we are exploring our options." Equifax is expected to appeal.
"They did their job, but someone dropped the ball and that's why there's such a huge punitive award," McBride said.
Miller said she hopes it's a wakeup call.
"They're sending people's information to companies all over the world. It can affect your credit and your scores and your life," Miller said.
A recent study found one in four credit reports contain errors. The only way to protect yours? Check it for free, once a year at annualcreditreport.com. And remember, errors can hurt everything - from your chances of getting a loan or a credit card, to how much you pay for insurance even where you can live or whether you get a job.
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