What should you do if you notice an error on their credit report? First, you should take the necessary steps to dispute it. In this article, you will learn about those steps.
Now, thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, cleaning your credit report is quick and easy. Credit bureaus should only report accurate and current information. So, if you find any mistakes, you should correct them immediately. Here are three steps in order to dispute inaccuracies:
Step 1: Obtain Your Credit Reports
First, you need to know exactly what is happening with your credit. Check reports from the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian). Keep in mind, some information may vary. Not all creditors report to every bureau.
To receive a free report from each company once per year contact the Annual Credit Report Request Agency. Or, you can get one directly from each of the bureaus for a fee.
Annual Credit Report Request Agency
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104
P.O. Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
P.O. Box 105783
Atlanta, GA 30348
Step 2: Know What Can Be Removed
Unfortunately, not all information is removable. Credit bureaus are required to report all credit and debt information. So, what information can be removed?
- Wrong Information. Does your report list any incorrect information? Examples to look out for include: someone else’s name, a judgement for a lawsuit you were never a part of, or an account you never opened. The previous examples can be permanently removed from your record!
- Duplicate information. Does an account show up multiple times? Do you only want it listed once? Fortunately, this information can be removed. You want to remove duplicate accounts, as this may prevent lenders from approving a loan. Duplicate accounts can give the appearance of having more debt and credit problems than you actually do.
- Old, negative information. Many times, negative information won’t haunt you forever. Your credit report may show lawsuits, judgements, liens, foreclosures, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, late payments, and charged-off accounts for seven years.
Step 3: Dispute Inaccuracies
If you notice errors that should have aged off your report, it is time to take action:
- File the dispute the bureau. You can make the dispute on the company website, over the phone, or by mail. You’ll have to provide personal identification, what information is incorrect, and what the correct information is. If you have any supporting documents, include those as well.
- Wait 30 days. After your file is disputed, the bureau has 30 days to investigate, and a dispute notation will show up on your report. During this time the creditor will have time to verify the information, and if they can’t prove it’s accurate, the bureau will stop reporting it. Once the investigation is completed you will receive a written report of what the bureau found, and an updated copy of your credit report if any changes were made.
Most times, removing inaccuracies is simple. What happens if the investigation results in no changes? Write a letter to the creditor explaining why the information is incorrect. Do not forget to add that you want them to report the correct information. Include copies of supporting documents, if any. The creditor may not report unproven information.
Lastly, if the situation does not get resolved consider writing a letter of explanation to add to your report. In one hundred words or less, you can explain your side of a credit problem. Write clearly, include supports facts, and send it to the bureaus to be attached to your report. This statement could make a positive impact on whoever is reading the report.