Todd Bodine says he first noticed the error in his Experian credit report in 2013.
Five years later, despite his numerous phone calls and disputes with the company, the mistake was still there. As a result, the Mooresville man says he struggled to refinance his mortgage, was denied loans, and faced higher interest rates.
Now, he's taking the company to court.
In a federal lawsuit filed this month, Bodine accuses Experian of continuing to report "derogatory and inaccurate" information about his credit history to third parties. He is asking for a jury trial and is seeking damages and attorney's fees.
“It’s so vital for these reports to be accurate because when it comes down to getting a car or a mortgage or insurance or a job, I mean those are all major things,” said Philadelphia attorney John Soumilas, who is representing Bodine.
“And you want the data sold about you to be accurate and complete.”
Bodine's dissatisfaction with the reporting of credit score seems to be common.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, at least 1 in 5 customers has a credit error in their report.
The problems seem to continue when it comes to fixing those errors. A 2015 study by the FTC that focused on consumers who had an unresolved credit dispute found that nearly 70 percent continued to believe that their reports remained inaccurate.
Experian, which is among the country's most prominent credit-reporting agencies, did not respond to a request for comment this week.
Soumilas said Bodine's complaint reflects two key consumer issues: the handling of public records, and the dispute and investigation process. While Bodine has been ensnared in the dispute process for five years, "Typically an error is supposed to be corrected within 30 days," Soumilas said.
According to the complaint, the error on Bodine's credit report involved a tax lien on property owned by his ex-wife. He thought it was a simple fix, and Equifax and TransUnion, the other major credit-reporting agencies removed it from Bodine's record, but Experian refused, the lawsuit says.
The lien surfaced again in January 2017, according to the lawsuit, when Bodine and his new wife tried to refinance their mortgage. He filed formal disputes against the company in July and September of that same year, again to no avail.
Bodine's final dispute came in February 2018 when he spoke to a Experian representative over the phone with a representative from the North Carolina Department of Revenue also on the call. The government official told the Experian rep that the tax lien did not belong to Bodine and should be removed from the report.
Yet, it remained and Experian distributed to third parties such as American Express, Equifax Mortgage Services and SunTrust, the complaint says.
Soumilas said the problems surrounding personal credit records remain widespread, particularly the difficulty consumers face when trying to correct an error.
"This is the type of data that I think affects almost every adult in the United States with respect to some significant transaction in their life," Soumilas said.
“He tried again and again to have this problem corrected, to no avail.”