Article by Jeff Ragan
As you no doubt realize, your credit report contains a great deal of personal information about you. For example it has a history of your addresses over the past several years, if you pay your bills on time, any lawsuits you may have been involved in, arrests and if you have filed bankruptcy in the past. All of this information is collected and then sold by the 3 major credit companies to many different places if you allow it and they make the request. If any of this information is incorrect, you may need to use the credit repair tips – disputing credit report errors.
One of my first credit repair tips in this article is, do not authorize people or companies to pull your credit report unless you have very good reason for doing so. If you are applying for credit, this is a good reason. This would include things like opening a credit card account applying for an auto loan or mortgage etc. The information is needed for your creditor to make a decision and determine your interest rate.
Now-a-days you have to allow insurance companies to see your report before they give you a quote on auto insurance. How your credit score affects the way we drive is something I will never understand.
Let me tell you a little story. When I bought a house, my auto insurance went up on the next renewal period. Then…….. sorry, I got off topic. Ask me some time, I have a great experience on this one.
You need to be sure that whatever is on your report is 100% accurate. In the past, when I was in the mortgage business I saw hundreds of credit reports. I was shocked at how many mistakes they had on them.
Many times I found myself helping the customer get the mistakes corrected just so they could apply for a mortgage. It was a long drawn out process sometimes I must say.
So what if you get your free report and find mistakes on it?? You need to dispute these errors right away. The process of disputing errors is somewhat easy if you know how to do it.
Disputing and Correcting the Errors
First off, you need to know that under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) the reporting company and the information provider both have to be sure that everything is 100% correct. So let’s look at it this way for just a moment.
Let’s suppose you are the bank that gave you a mortgage. If the bank finds that you are making all of your payments on time and then reports to the credit reporting company that you missed a single payment, is that right?? Not really because you have made every payment and all of them have been on time.
You would need to get that error corrected since it will shows up on your report and cost you some points in your score. Let’s take this a step further, suppose the bank reports that you were always late on your payments. Now some people do not realize it but if you go past 30 days late, each time you do this it is reported to these reporting companies.
So if you know and can prove you have made all of your payments and have never been late, you want this corrected right away. When offering people credit repair tips, I urge everyone to not fall into the trap of thinking a grace period as something you should be using. A grace period is for the occasional time you may be a few days late, it is not a new due date for your payment. I know some people who use this falsely think it does not affect their credit. It does!
Once you get your free copy of your report and you find errors, there is a process you need to follow. Under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) you can insist on errors being corrected since this is a poor reflection on you.
Normally it is the information provider (like the example of the bank above) that causes the error. These companies are only reporting what the providers tell them. However they have an obligation to help you get things corrected if there are errors.
Credit Repair Tips – Getting Started Disputing Errors
You need to write a letter to these credit bureaus about what you feel is not accurate on your credit report. Along with this letter you need to include copies (do not send originals) to back up what you are claiming to be the mistake. This gives proof that it is a mistake. Examples of this might be canceled checks, money order receipts, etc.
After providing your full name and current address you should make it clear what items on the report you are disputing. If there’s more than one mistake, spell them out one by one. You need to state all the facts and explain clearly why you have a dispute about the information. Then request that they remove it.
It’s a good practice to include a copy of your report and highlight or circle the item(s) in dispute. Be sure and send your letter by certified mail with a “return receipt requested” since it’s amazing how people claim “it must have gotten lost in the mail”. I’m sure you know what I mean here.
By sending your letter this way, you have proof of where it went and what companies you sent them too. You want to keep a separate file for each of the 3 credit bureaus you send them to. In each file be sure to keep a copy of the dispute letter and the proof you sent them. This way if you end up talking on the phone with them, you will be looking at the same thing they are.
Credit Repair Tips – What Happens Now
Because of FCRA, the credit bureaus have to investigate the items you are questioning. This has to be done within 30 days unless they think your dispute is not valid. That’s why the copies of proof is advisable.
They will forward your information to the provider who appears to have made the mistake. This causes the information provider to have to look into it and try to figure out what went wrong. After their research, if they find an error on their part, they must provide the corrected information to all 3 credit bureaus so your credit report is accurate. Even if there is no error they still must report it to the credit bureaus and explain their position why they feel the disputed item is correct.
Credit Repair Tips – Now What?
The credit bureaus now have to provide you an updated report (free of charge) that shows the corrections have been made. Once a disputed item is removed from your credit report, the bureaus cannot put it on your report again. For this reason you want to be sure that at least once a year you take a look at your report. The first time you do this may be a little more work depending how many disputes you may find. It is well worth the time and effort since your credit score is affected and can cost you thousands of dollars in higher interest rates on car loans, mortgages and so much more.
Now I know I got a little long-winded here, but I really want you the consumer to know your rights under this Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and to use them to your advantage by using these credit repair tips.
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