Equifax Double-Reports Student Loan, Still Hasn't Corrected It 12 Attempts Later

“David” can’t get Equifax to correct his credit report. Since 2006, he’s been trying to get them to remove a misreported student loan, and they’ve repeatedly ignored him or said it’s not their fault. Because of this, David’s credit report says he owes a total of $56,910 in student loans, instead of the accurate $28,455.

So what exactly is the problem? After 12 online (and phone) disputes to Equifax and 14 calls (and faxes) to the Direct Loan Servicing Center, each party seems to blame the other.

David is fed up with being given the runaround. He’s drafted a very clear letter and faxed it not only to Equifax and the Direct Loan Servicing Center, but also:

  • U.S. Department of Education Federal Studen Aid Ombudsman
  • Nationwide Consumer Rights
  • National Association of Consumer Advocates
  • The Consumerist

Here’s the letter, which we’re printing in part to publicize Equifax’s negligence but also as a guide for others who face a similar problem:

My name is [redacted] and I write this letter to each representative at once so that the issues of the past two years can be remedied and that the buck can, hopefully, stop being passed in regards to the gross errors on my credit report. I am not some typical, ranting customer who has an axe to grind, but rather someone who has had his Federal Student Loan credit falsely reported since July of 2006.

Just so we are all on the same page, I have filed 12 disputes online with Equifax and have called both Equifax and the Direct Loan Servicing Center 14 times (all documented) since July of 2006.

The issue is that my Federal Student Loan balance of $28,455 is being reported twice on my Equifax credit report. The initial account was opened in 09/2000 and then later consolidated in 07/06. However, rather than the balance for the 09/00 account being reduced to $0.00 and the status appearing as “consolidated”, the balance remained. The $28,455 balance also appears, as expected, on the 07/06 account.

Again, the issue is simply that my pre-consolidation account from 09/00 still has a balance of $28,455 as does my post-consolidation account from 07/06. This appears on my Equifax credit report as though I have a total balance owed to the Direct Loan Servicing Center of $56,910 between two accounts.

The Direct Loan Servicing Center has repeatedly verified that I only have one account with a balance, the 07/06 account, and that my only debt to them is $28,455. This was done by Brian Cornia at DL on 05/08/08 and previously by Stephanie (of Team 2) on 01/29/08.

So what exactly is the problem? After 12 online (and phone) disputes to Equifax and 14 calls (and faxes) to the Direct Loan Servicing Center, each party seems to blame the other. Direct Loans claims repeatedly that they are sending the correct information to Equifax, however, as seen in my credit report (below) from 24/Sep/2008, this is still not the case (this full credit report will also be faxed in full, this can be seen on pages 4 and 5).

It may very well be that Direct Loan Servicing Center is dropping the ball on this, but we feel it’s ultimately Equifax’s responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the data that it collects, places a value on, and then sells for profit to other companies. By misreporting David’s credit history and failing to fix it for 26 months now, they’re doing persistent damage to his credit history, and not providing a very reliable service to their own customers either.

(Photo: The Shining)

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  1. mrsam says:

    Something like this is a perfect issue to write not just to the parties above, but to your congressional representative, and both of your Senators. Usually, at least one of these three yahoos is going to forward your letter to the credit bureaus for comments. The credit bureaus are going to pay more attention to a letter from your elected representative, than from you.

  2. Skellbasher says:

    Contact the Federal Trade Commission as well, they handle Fair Credit Reporting violations.

    I’d also contact an attorney that is specializes in FCR and FDCPA cases. After 12 disputes, you probably have a pretty decent case for financial penalties.

  3. Mistrez_Mish says:

    Ooooo! I can help with this one – Equifax had a BIG error on my credit report and I went through the same sort of crap with their “customer service”. One EECB later and it’s fixed (within minutes, including a formal apology from a veep).

    Here are the email addresses for you:

    richard.smith@equifax.com
    lee.adrean@equifax.com; coretha.rushing@equifax.com; rob.webb@equifax.com; paul.springman@equifax.com; kent.mast@equifax.com; rudy.ploder@equifax.com; steve.ely@equifax.com; j.dann.adams@equifax.com; trey.loughran@equifax.com; andy.bodea@equifax.com; jeff.dodge@equifax.com

    Enjoy! ;D

    • ViperBorg says:

      @Mistrez_Mish: There’s some quality info right there. Thanks for sharing that.

      • stevejust says:

        @ViperBorg: AGREED. I just wanted everyone to know that I just got off the phone with an assitant to the president of Equifax, and she said that the loan hadn’t been showing closed as of the date of my last report but it is now showing closed — so the situation is rectified.

        It’s not exactly the best explanation since I consolodated my federal loans with Direct Loan Servicing back in 2004, but nevertheless, there you have it. The EECB worked!

        Thanks!

  4. audiochick says:

    I just got Equifax last week to clear up a car loan that was double reported. The credit union with which I had refinaced my car had merged with another CU and there was a loan listed for both. I have piad off my car, so I was shocked when I checked my credit report a few months later and saw that it still showed that I owed over $9k. I thought it might be difficult to get it cleared up since the original loan and the “merged” loan were listed under separate companies, but it was no problem at all. The dispute worked like a charm. I feel sorry for the OP. I don’t know if I just got lucky or if he has been unlucky.

  5. stevejust says:

    Holy crap, the same thing is happening to me. And I forgot that I didn’t follow up on it the last time they refused to acknowledge the problem!!! Thanks for the reminder!

    • quirkyrachel says:

      @stevejust: Clears throat. I just remembered the same thing. I think my student loans are listed twice, so the amount that I appear to owe is doubled!

  6. azntg says:

    /me sticks head out to hear all the cluster bombs exploding at Equifax’s turf.

    Seriously, the CRAs act with impugnity, because they can. It truly is a shame. They get to make money selling OUR information and they get to do whatever they want with it (or do nothing with it, even with a legal mandate!)

  7. Isn’t it the case that if you send them a certified letter, they have to prove within 30 days that the information is correct, or drop it off the report. I could swear I read it on consumerist, and I think that is where I found this link, which I bookmarked for this site: [makeyournut.com]

  8. David, I can almost certainly promise you that it is Equifax that is the problem. They have some mental block regarding student loans that Transunion and Experian just do not seem to have.

    I had a similar problem. I had a student loan that was reported as TOO NEW TOO RATE, yet 9 years old, listed the complete original amount of my loan, with no payments and yet somehow no negative marks. Somehow I had managed to have a loan for 9 years, never made a payment and yet it was listed positively. And by the way, the loan had been paid off.

    No amount of begging, writing, letters, phone calls – nothing worked. The loan originator sent information over and over and over. It just made the entry make less sense. They even claimed that my loan originator reported that the loan was too new to rate AND 9 years old.

    Guess what? They lie.

    The entry is still there. It does not appear on my Experian. It does not appear on Transunion. They all get the SAME DATA.

    Now that this is on Consumerist, I think you’ll get someone at Equifax to fix the problem. But in general… I don’t know what their problem is.

    • blackmage439 says:

      @twophrasebark: Actually, the Credit Reporting Agencies receive different data, and represent that data according to their own interpretation and formulas. That is why sites like the Consumerist advise using http://www.annualcreditreport.com to receive a free report every four months from each of the different agencies.

      However, I agree with you and others; something seems to be borked over at Experian.

      • @blackmage439: I don’t know what you mean.

        If ABC Credit Card reports data to all three agencies, it must be the same data. And the agencies are required to report the data in the same way. How they interpret or present it is one thing, but if you owe $5 and have three late payments, there’s not very many ways to present that.

        Now XYZ Credit Card may only report to Experian and not Equifax, but I don’t think that’s what you’re talking about.

        • probablykate says:

          @twophrasebark: The data is reported electronically and each credit bureau has it’s own system. Equifax’s is apparently different enough from the other 2 that data gets skewed or missed. I’m guessing the reporting institution has to report the data differently to match the system, so in a way it is a problem on both ends. I tend to blame Equifax more–their system must be pretty awful considering the number of problems that crop up with them and only them.

          Equifax is hands down the worst of the 3 credit bureaus but it’s not like consumers and businesses can all just stop using them!

  9. johnnya2 says:

    I think the biggest scam going is the CRA’s. They are notoriously inaccurate and cost people AND companies hundreds of millions of dollars with bad loans or over priced loans. I think they should all be disbanded and loans should be done the way they were done in the past, before “scoring models” or possibly be forced to pay 100k for each error that is not fixed within 30 days. I bet they would get their sh together then

  10. nox says:

    This made me think of Fight Club.

  11. Lucky225 says:

    Don’t know if anyone mentioned this, but I’ve got several “valid” debts off my credit report by disputing that I never authorized the original creditor to transfer or sell my debt to a collection agency and unless the collection agency can produce a signed contract validating my debt with *them*, I dispute said debt as I don’t OWE the Collection agency. (This would be like if your friend Alice loaned you $500, and her friend Bill started harassing you to give HIM Alice’s money back. You don’t owe Bill, and Bill can’t produce any evidence that he is authorized to collect Alice’s $500 on her behalf. Can you imagine Bill, Alice’s friend, sueing you in small claims court and then producing documents that you owe Alice money, and then asking the judge that HE should be awarded that money? Bill can’t produce any evidence that you owe HIM money, thus he’s not entitled to it. If this was the case you could file small claims against everyone you know that owes SOMEONE ELSE money.)

    • jusooho says:

      @Lucky225: That’s a very interesting and creative way to steal from your creditors. But I don’t think its very good or moral advice to tell people to shirk their debts on purpose.

      • Lucky225 says:

        @jusooho:

        It’s not “stealing” from the creditor when the original creditor is still claiming the debt on your credit report, and now a new collection agency is trying to claim the same debt making it look like you owe more then you actually do.

    • wickedpixel says:

      @Lucky225: Yeah, that’ wrong. There’s a whole industry around the buying and selling of notes. If you have a debt with person A they can sell your dept to person B and person B has every legal right to try to collect it from you.

  12. adamwinn says:

    (response to Lucky225) Typically the original agreement you signed agree to pay the debt includes ‘fine-print’ allowing the debt provider to transfer their obligations and rights to an affiliate without your consent.

  13. punkrawka says:

    This seems like a fine case to get a lawyer, if he’s gotten any major loans since the initial misreporting. If having too much debt cost him even a couple points on a mortgage or car loan, that could be some pretty serious material damage that Equifax may owe.

  14. bsalamon says:

    maybe its the school screwing it up, saying that you owe them. It’s been happening a lot lately at my current school, where loans aren’t being disbursed, and some loans are going into payback mode, even though people are still full-time students.

  15. Aesteval says:

    Guaranteed problem with Equifax. I noticed something similar on my
    credit report this year but didn’t feel inclined to chase after it for
    three reasons: 1) the balance appears to be relatively up to date, just
    reported twice under identical but separate entries and presumably will
    continue to be updated identically; 2) due to their asinine calculation
    and reporting methods, they say I have quite a bit in “available” and
    “unused” credit with a comparatively low used percentage; 3) it’s not
    like the other agencies are reporting it in that manner.

  16. 420greg says:

    You have the right to sue Equifax in small claims court in the County you live in. Once they get the summons they will get it straightened out or they will have to pay.

    Like the above poster said. If you have taken any loans on the past few years, and this line item affected the interest rate, you can sue Equifax for damages.

    If you are paying 8% on a 30 year note instead of say 6.5%, Equifax is liable for difference. It could be a pretty nice chunk of change.

    • scoosdad says:

      @420greg:
      “straightened out or they will have to pay”: OK so they don’t show. Does that solve the original problem with the errors on the OP’s credit report? Probably not. Even if he could collect some money, that’s not what he’s looking to do.

      And how does the OP go about proving his contention that he “could have” gotten a loan at 6.5% instead of 8? Most state’s small claims courts limit awards to actual damages. This is going to be pretty difficult to put a number on.

      As far as a nice chunk of change, that will also be limited if he pursues this in a small claims court. Maybe not so nice a chunk, unless he goes with an attorney into a regular courtroom.

  17. AbeniBabalastic says:

    I had something like this happen to me last year. I had $15k in student loans that was being reported twice, because the loan had been sold by Key Bank (That should raise red flags right there) to another company. Both versions of the same loan were being reported, so it looked as if I owed $30k instead. As I really didn’t have any major purchases coming up, I let it slide, figuring it was caught in-between reporting. This year when I checked my yearly free report, fortunately it was now reported properly.

    I can understand how the OP would be upset, because it isn’t going away. I would be going through the same mess, had mine not luckily fixed itself.

  18. bohemian says:

    This is probably one of the biggest situations where the consumer is relatively helpless and there is little regulation.
    The credit scoring business as it exists needs to be disbanded. It is way too easy for someone to put something bogus on your report and way too hard to get it taken off.

    • johnva says:

      @bohemian: You’re not helpless at all unless you’re afraid to get a lawyer and sue. There are strong laws to deal with exactly this type of situation.

      • johnnya2 says:

        @johnva: Lets say you get this lawyer, but before you get to court you need to apply for credit. You will have an out of pocket expense until it is resolved. Do you really think the court system works that fast? If you win, then the real fun begins, collection of the debt.

        • johnva says:

          @johnnya2:

          1. It’s pretty easy to collect a debt from a big, rich corporation. Unlike your typical private citizen who loses a lawsuit, they often just write a check because it’s cheaper to continuing to fight and because they have too much to lose.

          2. If you need to apply for credit in the meantime, and are adversely affected by their actions, that greatly increases the amount of damages you can sue them for. Then you can sue for actual damages, too, in addition to the statutory damages that are imposed as a blanket penalty for failing to obey the law. Basically, by not correcting this for so many attempts, they are handing you free money, that you deserve.

  19. Umm….SUE THEM!

    Seriously…get a good lawyer and sue them to fix the problem and for damages.

  20. bluebirdred says:

    This exact same thing has been happening to me for the past 8 years. My original Stafford student loan was consolidated in 2001 and Equifax is showing the original loan as six or seven separate loans AND showing I was past due on payment. The amount shown is ZERO!! I made calls and wrote letters to both agencies (Direct Loans and Equifax) and I’m convinced it’s just gonna sit there like that for all eternity.

    I got the same business as the poster: finger-pointing in both directions.

  21. TonyTriple says:

    Equifax has got to be the shadiest of the three credit reporting agencies. The hoops that those jerks make you hop through just to get your free credit report are just mind boggling.

    You want a laugh? Try getting your credit report online from these guys. Its almost as fun as pulling teeth.

    • scoosdad says:

      @TonyTriple: Wow, I did it yesterday when I first read this story, selected Equifax as my choice, and it was so simple. Couldn’t have been easier. What’s your problem with them?

      So they ask a few simple security questions after the initial data input to make sure you’re not someone else. Is that a bad thing? They asked me to verify my previous address and what I pay monthly for my mortgage (multiple choice questions at that). A CAPTCHA entry and voila it was in front of me.

  22. RobinB says:

    As a lender, I would take copies of the borrower’s information and just mark the credit report to match. We often see duplicate info. Twenty years ago we had humans running the credit services and we could get things corrected. Now we just accept the info the borrower provides. Unless the credit score is affected, then we have a long haul ahead of us.

  23. ZaneCaballo says:

    I had this exact same thing happen several years ago. After going round and round with each of the credit bureaus off and on for about three years, I finally gave up. At some point since then, the duplicate loans have disappeared. All I could get from the loan servicer was “We’re only reporting one loan”, while Equifax and the others would say “They’re reporting two loans”…it just got so ridiculous that it stopped being worth my time.

  24. pal003 says:

    Equifax seems to be the worst. I am still working on getting removed a “collection item” that I knew nothing about. Thanks to Experien’s online dispute form – they removed it quickly. But the other 2 – no online dispute and I will wait forever, it seems.

    Congressmen Mel Watt and his staff is seriously working on a bill to address Credit Reporting errors/abuse and bad FICO reporting (he chaired a great FICO Credit Scoring hearing a few months ago). You can contact him here – [financialservices.house.gov]