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|How to Dispute Credit Report
Errors. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) |
|Your credit report - a type of consumer report
- contains information about where you work and live and how you pay your bills.
It also may show whether you've been sued or arrested or have filed for
bankruptcy. Companies called consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) or credit
bureaus compile and sell your credit report to businesses. Because businesses
use this information to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance,
employment, and other purposes allowed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA),
it's important that the information in your report is complete and accurate.
Some financial advisors suggest that you periodically review your credit
report for inaccuracies or omissions. This could be especially important if
you're considering making a major purchase, such as buying a home. Checking in
advance on the accuracy of information in your credit file could speed the
Getting Your Credit Report
If you've been
denied credit, insurance, or employment because of information supplied by a
CRA, the FCRA says the company you applied to must give you the CRA's name,
address, and telephone number. If you contact the agency for a copy of your
report within 60 days of receiving a denial notice, the report is free. In
addition, you're entitled to one free copy of your report a year if you certify
in writing that (1) you're unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days,
(2) you're on welfare, or (3) your report is inaccurate because of fraud.
Otherwise, a CRA may charge you up to $9.00 for a copy of your report.
If you simply want a copy of your report, call the CRAs listed in the
Yellow Pages under "credit" or "credit rating and reporting." Call each credit
bureau listed since more than one agency may have a file on you, some with
different information. The three major national credit bureaus are:
P.O. Box 740241,
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian (formerly TRW),
P.O. Box 2002,
(888) EXPERIAN (397-3742).
P.O. Box 1000,
Chester, PA 19022
FCRA, both the CRA and the organization that provided the information to the
CRA, such as a bank or credit card company, have responsibilities for correcting
inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To protect all your rights
under the law, contact both the CRA and the information provider.
tell the CRA in writing what information you believe is inaccurate. Include
copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. In addition to
providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify
each item in your report you dispute, state the facts and explain why you
dispute the information, and request deletion or correction. You may want to
enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled. Your letter
may look something like the sample below. Send your letter by certified mail,
return receipt requested, so you can document what the CRA received. Keep copies
of your dispute letter and enclosures.
CRAs must reinvestigate the items
in question--usually within 30 days--unless they consider your dispute
frivolous. They also must forward all relevant data you provide about the
dispute to the information provider. After the information provider receives
notice of a dispute from the CRA, it must investigate, review all relevant
information provided by the CRA, and report the results to the CRA. If the
information provider finds the disputed information to be inaccurate, it must
notify all nationwide CRAs so they can correct this information in your file. l
Disputed information that cannot be verified must be deleted from your file.
If your report contains erroneous information, the CRA must correct it.
If an item is incomplete, the CRA must complete it. For example, if your
file showed that you were late making payments, but failed to show that you were
no longer delinquent, the CRA must show that you're current.
If your file
shows an account that belongs only to another person, the CRA must delete it.
When the reinvestigation is complete, the CRA must give you the written
results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an
item is changed or removed, the CRA cannot put the disputed information back in
your file unless the information provider verifies its accuracy and
completeness, and the CRA gives you a written notice that includes the name,
address, and phone number of the provider.
Also, if you request, the CRA
must send notices of corrections to anyone who received your report in the past
six months. Job applicants can have a corrected copy of their report sent to
anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes. If
a reinvestigation does not resolve your dispute, ask the CRA to include your
statement of the dispute in your file and in future reports.
addition to writing to the CRA, tell the creditor or other information provider
in writing that you dispute an item. Again, include copies (NOT originals) of
documents that support your position. Many providers specify an address for
disputes. If the provider then reports the item to any CRA, it must include a
notice of your dispute. In addition, if you are correct-that is, if the disputed
information is not accurate-the information provider may not use it again.
Accurate Negative Information When negative information in your report is
accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. Accurate negative
information can generally stay on your report for 7 years. There are certain
Information about criminal convictions may be reported
without any time limitation.
Bankruptcy information may be reported for 10
Credit information reported in response to an application for a job
with a salary of more than $75,000 has no time limit.
reported because of an application for more than $150,000 worth of credit or
life insurance has no time limit.
Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid
judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of
limitations runs out, whichever is longer. Criminal convictions can be reported
without any time limit.
Adding Accounts to Your File
Your credit file
may not reflect all your credit accounts. Although most national department
store and all-purpose bank credit card accounts will be included in your file,
not all creditors supply information to CRAs: Some travel, entertainment,
gasoline card companies, local retailers, and credit unions are among those
creditors that don't. If you've been told you were denied credit because of an
"insufficient credit file" or "no credit file" and you have accounts with
creditors that don't appear in your credit file, ask the CRA to add this
information to future reports. Although they are not required to do so, many
CRAs will add verifiable accounts for a fee. You should, however, understand
that if these creditors do not report to the CRA on a regular basis, these added
items will not be updated in your file.
For More Information
FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business
practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot,
stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer
issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357);
TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and
other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database
available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION FOR THE CONSUMER
Your City, State, Zip
Name of Credit Reporting Agency
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to
dispute the following information in my file. The items I
dispute are also
encircled on the attached copy of the report I received.
disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax
court, and identify type
of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.)
This item is
(inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is
inaccurate or incomplete
and why). I am requesting that the item be
deleted (or request another
specific change) to correct the information.
Enclosed are copies of (use
this sentence if applicable and describe any
enclosed documentation, such as
payment records, court documents)
supporting my position. Please
reinvestigate this (these) matter(s) and
(delete or correct) the disputed
item(s) as soon as possible.
(List what you are enclosing)
|How Can I Improve my Credit Score?
1. Pay off any old, collection account or delinquent debt.
2. Only open and keep accounts that you need... don't race to put 20 credit cards in your pocket.
3. Don't apply for every credit card that comes in the mail or via email. The more "HARD INQUIRIES" on your report the lower your score.
4. Pay off credit cards and other revolving lines of credit every month if possible.
5. Always pay EVERY bill on time, even if it means sending in less (but at least the minimum amount). If you can't pay your bill on time, call the company and let them know.
6. Read carefully any application for credit, considering the APR, late and other fees, annual or monthly fees, and Grace period (if applicable).
7. Shop around for the best credit possible.
8. Run a credit check on your own credit profile and dispute all incorect information.