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Credit reporting agency feels jury's wrath in money damage award

Most adult consumers in Florida and elsewhere across the country have one or an assortment of cards that they occasionally use for purchases. Those centrally include credit cards, debit cards and various stores’ retail cards.

As most people know, such cards are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they can render purchase decisions quicker and simpler, lessen the need to carry outsized amounts of cash around, and help a consumer establish a solid credit reputation. On the other hand, of course, their misuse can lead to worrisome debt levels. In the worst instances, credit card debt and other revolving card obligations can result in the denial of needed funds, home foreclosure and even bankruptcy.

In recent years, an added element has intruded with dire results into the financial lives of many consumers, being entirely unexpected and wreaking havoc on their personal profiles despite an absence of any wrongdoing or financial recklessness on their part.

That is identity theft committed by third parties or flat-out errors committed by reporting agencies that, singly or in combination, can have an egregiously negative effect on an individual’s credit score and purchasing ability, as well as create spiraling financial difficulties.

One woman’s personal odyssey in Oregon illustrates that well. She discovered several years ago that her Equifax credit report was replete with material errors that were resulting in a denial of credit from several banks. Although she contacted Equifax repeatedly on the matter, the company was flatly unresponsive.

Out of desperation, she finally secured help from an attorney and filed a federal lawsuit against Equifax. As a clear indication of how an impartial group of people viewed her plight and the agency’s conduct, a jury has just awarded her $18.6 million in damages.

The case serves as a useful teaching point for many consumers in Florida and across the country who find themselves mired in personal debt that is beginning to adversely affect their financial options and freedom. Securing assistance as early as possible in the process from an experienced debt-relief attorney can make a material difference in a debt-related matter and help an individual get a fresh financial start.

Source: ABC News, "Jury awards $18.6M for Equifax credit report mix-up," Alan Farnham, July 29, 2013