When I called Butler, he agreed to pay Hart $200. But his check came with a letter stipulating that by cashing the check she waived any future claims. She demurred.
Hart ultimately restored her credit, but she and her husband, Charles, decided to sign up for credit monitoring, to let them know if the bogus bankruptcy resurfaced. I told Doris's story to a contact at Bank of America, and even though the Harts are not customers, the bank enrolled them in its monitoring program free for two years, saving them about $600.
New consumer rules took effect last summer (too late for Hart) that can help if you're ever the victim of a credit snafu. "Now agencies must act promptly — within 30 days in most cases — to verify the information or remove it," says Rebecca Kuehn, assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission.