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Mistaken Identity: Background Check. A tenant screening company has merged someone else's eviction out record into my background

Orlando, FL |

There is no possible way the person identified in the eviction record is me yet this report has injured my reputation and ability to obtain housing.

My question is: are tenant background reports subject to consumer reporting laws and what are the remedies for inaccurate background reports that result in adverse action? I am looking to retain an attorney to resolve this matter on my behalf. I wrote a NOTICE OF INTENT TO FILE COMPLAINT with the tenant screening company and the owner informed me that he is only reporting what is in the court record. The issue is the court record contains no unique identifier other than first and last name in an eviction record. How can I disprove something that the tenant screener and court records can't validate?

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So, what is your question?

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.

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Your problem may have been caused when credit reporting agencies impermissibly merge the data on two or more individuals or continue to show inaccurate information after being given a reasonable opportunity to investigate the matter and correct it. I have experience in Fair Credit Reporting Act litigation. In fact, I have had a successful jury trial against Equifax I have also lectured to other attorneys regarding the Fair Credit Reporting Act and I am scheduled to do so later this month. I believe I may be able to help but there are certain things that usually should be done so as to give the credit reporting agencies a chance to fix things before successfully suing them. You may or may not have done everything necessary at this point.

If you have not already disputed properly, you should consider disputing with the credit bureaus who claim you owe a debt. You should be as detailed as possible. Hopefully, that will take care of the problem. If the creditor or debt collector has already asked you for more information, you should provide that to them. If you do not, they will take the position in any litigation that you failed to mitigate your damages. Most judges and juries are going to expect you to use your best efforts to solve the problem. If after you dispute to the creditors, they continue to try to collect the debt by sending you dunning letters or by placing or leaving items on your credit report, then you probably have a claim under Florida's Consumer Collection Practices Act and/or the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

If you dispute in writing and send the dispute via certified mail, your case would probably be one that an attorney would take on a contingency fee basis. In case you have not, I can provide a free instructional form for dispute letters as a convenience to you (in word format) but you will need to email me to request that document. If the credit bureau reporting your derogatory information has asked that you use a different address than the one I have on the letter, you should use that address.
Please act quickly because there is a two year statute of limitations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, although there is an argument now that it can be longer if you did not learn of the violation for some time. Your failure to act quickly could result in a loss of valuable rights. There is only a one year statute of limitations under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. I cannot give you any advice as to when the statute of limitations starts running unless and until I am retained because sometimes it is not clear.
Believe it or not, you should apply for credit if you would otherwise have applied for it but for the credit bureaus refusal to conduct a reasonable reinvestigation. The credit bureaus try to discount damages if you have not actually applied for credit.

If you have disputed already, it would be helpful for an attorney if you prepared a time line in chronological order showing each debt collector, creditor and credit bureau's actions and omissions showing, at a minimum, the dates of any dispute or request for validation, information disputed, the details and date/time of all communications with any debt collector, creditor or credit bureau relating to the alleged debt and any denials of requested credit that occurred as a result. If you do not owe the debt, any objective proof that it was fully paid or that you did not incur the debt would be helpful as well. You should also provide a chronological copy of the relevant documents including credit reports, dispute letters and any information you have relating to derogatory information on your credit reports for an attorney to review. A good timeline would have a breakdown for each credit bureau showing date of dispute, information disputed, which items were not reasonably investigated and which denials occurred as a result. This would help an attorney better evaluate your case.

If this information has been helpful, please check the thumbs up tab below. Disclaimer: The above is intended to give you some insight into various legal topics. This information is not intended as legal advice, but rather an attempt to provide helpful topical information. Although I would welcome the opportunity to speak to you about representing you, we have not established an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship requires me to agree in writing to represent you. Unless that happens, you should not take anything I say or write to be legal advice about your situation or make any decisions based on it. It is very important that you consult a lawyer as to the specific circumstances of your case. If there are more facts that you overlooked and did not include in your initial question and you would like to email me, you may send an email to Of course, sending an email to me or my firm does not create an attorney-client relationship. We do not accept client representations by email. We do not always treat unsolicited information received by email from our website as confidential unless you have first confirmed that we do not have a conflict of interest. Please do not send us any information about a potential representation until you communicate with us to find out if we have a conflict of interest with the adversary in your particular case. As a rule, we do not represent institutions against consumers so there is usually not a conflict of interest when it comes to consumer protection but it is always safe to be sure. If you send me an email without checking to ensure there is no conflict, you also agree that our review of your email or any information in it, even if you submitted it in a good faith effort to retain us, and even if you consider it confidential, will not preclude us from representing another client directly adverse to you, even in a matter where that information could and will be used against you. Sorry for all of the legal words but I like to be up front with potential clients and my clients. Best regards, Steven M. Fahlgren Attorney, Arbitrator and Certified Circuit Civil Mediator Law Offices of Steven M. Fahlgren, P.A. Phone: (904) 845-2255 Phone: (407) 852-1711

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