More of this amazing investigation by the Columbus Dispatch. This covers public record information on your credit report, an area often replete with errors.

Anne Vitale wasn’t alarmed when she first discovered a court judgment for an unpaid payday loan on her credit report. She thought, “I can fix this.”

All that was needed was a little common sense to see that the debt was not hers. Also in her favor: She’s a lawyer who knows her way around the legal system.

But neither could help her repair her damaged credit report. Judgments, which are court-ordered repayments of debts such as medical or utility bills, can destroy a pristine credit score, the number used to decide who receives a loan and how much they will pay in interest.

When credit-report errors come from court records, they can dash dreams of homeownership, like the dream Anne Vitale had.

And judges and other court officials have no standing to correct the problems. The credit-reporting agencies won’t accept their word that a mistake was made.

Court records contain the most damning financial information — judgments, tax liens, foreclosures and bankruptcies. They are financial scarlet letters that can scar consumers for at least seven years by barring them from access to credit or costing them high fees to obtain loans.

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