If you get your free annual credit report and discover there are some inaccuracies, you will want to dispute the information and work to get it corrected on your credit report. When you dispute the information, you are protected by the Fair Credit Reporting Act which requires that all credit reporting agencies (like Experian, TransUnion, etc) respond with an investigation of your creditors.
If the information disputed is found to be inaccurate- it will either be removed from your credit report or corrected within thirty days. Also, if the creditor is unable to proof their information is correct, it will be considered inaccurate and will have to be changed.
What Might Need to be Disputed?
When you get your credit report, you will want to look out for the following common areas that mistakes are found:
Inaccurate details- you may find that creditors have reported late payments to your file that you don?t agree with. If you have back up information, like canceled checks or statements that show when the checks were cashed, you are more likely to be able to get the late notation removed.
Old, outdated information- on your credit report, negative account information can only be reported for seven years after the first delinquency; except Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Fraudulent Accounts?definitely look out for accounts appearing on your credit report that you didn?t open. This could signify that you have been the victim of identity theft, or that account information from someone with a name similar to yours has been mixed up with your information.
How to File a Credit Dispute
You should file your dispute in writing. This includes mailing a letter to the credit reporting agency or using their online form for filing disputes. The Fair Credit Report Act gives 30 days for the credit reporting agency to investigate the dispute claim and come to a conclusion on the situation. You will then receive the written results and a free copy of your credit report if any changes have been made.
The best way to file a dispute is to make a photo copy of your credit report and enclose it with your letter. Circle the dispute on the credit report and number it. In your letter, reference each number for each piece of information you are disputing with the reason you are disputing it.
For fast processing, be sure to include:
Your full name and mailing address
Your date of birth
Social security number
Name of creditor and the account number of the item you are disputing
And of course, don?t forget to sign it!
Alternative Dispute Options
The other method of disputing information found on your credit report is to contact the creditor directly. If you contact a creditor and indicate that they have reported information incorrectly to your credit report, the FCRA states that they cannot then report that item at all to the credit report without including a note that you are disputing the information. Of course, if the information is found to be inaccurate or an error, it must be corrected on your report or removed.
What to Do if The Dispute Doesn?t Result in a Settlement
It’s not always simple to get a settlement on your dispute. If following the dispute process leaves you with an unsatisfactory result, you can then file a dispute with the National Consumer Assistance Center. Having the case re-investigated may or may not result in the deletion of an item off your credit report; but you can bet that you will need to have documentary evidence to get the credit bureaus to remove any information. Unfortunately, if you are successful in having items removed from your credit report, you may find them to reappear due to the instance of the creditor!
Another option is to contact your Attorney General’s Office if you believe the credit bureau has violated the FCRA. You have the option to sue the credit bureau and/or creditor in either state or federal court if you feel they are in violation. If you win, all of your attorney fees and damages would be reimbursed to you.
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