You’ve run your credit report or checked your credit score and there’s a new alert – OFAC. You’ve never seen this term before, but it looks serious. You’re not sure what you could have done to cause a government alert like this.
Below, we discuss what OFAC alerts are, how to identify and remove false alerts, and how to get help recovering damages caused by a false OFAC alert.
What Is OFAC?
OFAC is the Office of Foreign Assets Control, a sector of the United States government. This governing body determines and implements economic sanctions programs against identified targets. These are most often individuals who have been identified as terrorists or drug traffickers.
Once in place, the sanctions restrict international trade and financial transactions. They are typically used to achieve American security objectives or the negotiation of foreign policy. An OFAC alert on your credit report means that your name and identifying information has been flagged by the Office.
What Is the SDN List?
If your name has been identified, you will be placed on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. Individuals on this list cannot buy, sell, or trade in the U.S., and American citizens are heavily discouraged from dealing with these people.
OFAC does not need to notify you before placing you on the SDN list, meaning that you will likely only find out about it by getting a copy of your own credit report or by having a credit application denied.
Confirming the Alert Is Accurate
If you have an OFAC alert on your credit report, the credit bureau or reporting agency you receive the report from must verify the information is accurate. This involves a number of steps like:
- Checking the current SDN list for your name. If your name is not on the list, the creditor or reporting agency should disregard the OFAC alert.
- Checking the quality of the information compared to yours. For example, if the gender or middle name is incorrect, the alert is likely false.
- Contact OFAC by dialing their hotline. Creditors or credit bureaus can contact OFAC directly and speak with an agent who can further assist in the confirmation of your identity.
If you contact a credit reporting agency and ask them to confirm the accuracy of an OFAC alert on your report, they should be able and willing to do so. Don’t accept pushback and be polite but firm about your creditor’s rights.
OFAC uses sophisticated software to identify prohibited individuals, but it is software nonetheless and no computer program or application is 100% perfect. It’s important to verify that an OFAC alert is authentic instead of just assuming that it is, because it’s not uncommon for data to be gathered, sorted, and interpreted in a way that inaccurately matches you to the profile of a prohibited individual.
Removing a False OFAC Alert
Credit bureaus must remove OFAC that are proven to be false or that are resolved with the agency. If you believe the alert on your report is false, you can dispute it under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This can usually be done online, or you can call the bureau. You will likely need to dispute the alert with all three credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
If you are able to successfully remove an OFAC alert, chances are your credit has already been severely damaged. You may be able to obtain compensation for the harm to your reputation and your credit score by working with an experienced New Hampshire or Massachusetts consumer protection lawyer.
Recover Damages After Being Wrongly Flagged By OFAC With Mazow McCullough, PC
If you were falsely targeted by OFAC and an alert was placed on your credit report, you may have sustained significant financial damages as a result. You may need a consumer protection attorney to recover those damages. This is especially true if you were denied credit due to a false OFAC alert and the credit denial critically impacted you. For example, if you were denied a business loan due to a false report, a lawsuit may be able to help you recover expenses you incurred as a result.
Contact us now for a an appointment to meet with our consumer lawyers or to get answers to your questions about filing a lawsuit after being negatively impacted by a false report to your credit. Call our Salem, MA consumer law firm at (978) 744-8000 or toll-free at (855) 693-9084.