It isn’t uncommon today for many consumers to have negative entries on their credit report. These entries my be true or may be false. Whatever they may be, know that you have the right to dispute them and attempt to clear up your credit report. Steer clear of companies promising to clean up your credit report. Whatever someone else can do, you yourself can do. In the end, doing this yourself may save you tons of money.
1. Order your credit report from all three credit reporting bureaus. Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax are the three credit reporting agencies also known as credit reporting bureau (I will list websites and phone numbers of the agencies at the end of the article). You can order your credit reports by phone, mail, or internet (you will need an e-mail address for this)t. To order them, you will need your personal identifying information which may include your birthdate, social security number, current and previous addresses, and previous and current credit lenders. Every person is entitled to one free credit report per year from each credit report bureau. If you want more than one per year, you will have to pay a nominal fee which varied from state to state. You will be able to find fee information on the credit bureau’s website. Free reports don’t stop there: if you are denied credit you are entitled to a free credit report within 60 days from the agency in which the credit information was obtained from. You can also get a free report if you are unemployed or receiving public assistance. In these instances, you may need to write a letter requesting a free report and stating your reason behind this. Once you have your credit report, you can start the process of cleaning up your report.
2. Go through your report and review each entry. Each credit bureau may report different information, so make sure you look at each report in great detail. Make sure each entry is listed correctly. If you are unfamiliar with the entry or never obtained credit with the creditor and they are reporting negative information, put a mark next to it. Once you have identified all of the information that is incorrect or unfamiliar, it is time to dispute the information.
3. Dispute the information with the credit bureaus. If you received your report by mail, you have the option of sending back the dispute form that comes with the report or going online. If you use the form included with your report, fill all the information out as best as you can. If you do not have a full account number, use the partial account number being reported on your credit report. Make sure you make a copy of the form and follow up with the credit bureau if you do not hear from them within 30 days. Mail all documents certified mail with a return receipt. If you go online, print out a copy of the form you fill out and keep it for your records. If you do not hear back within 30 days, a follow e-mail or letter to the company will be needed to find out the status of their investigation.
4. Don’t stop there. Dispute incorrect information with the creditor itself. Write letters including your account number and why you believe the information is incorrect. Include your contact information and a date in which you expect a response by. Mail all information and any supporting documents you may have (old bills, etc.) by certified mail with return receipt. If you rather make a phone call, make sure you note the date and time you called and the person you spoke with. In the event that you need to follow up you will know when they received your letter or who you spoke with.
5. Be persistent. If the credit bureau does not remove or update all incorrect information, keep writing and disputing the information. If that does not work, add a comment to your credit report and explain YOUR side of the story. After all, this is your credit report and your voice should be heard.
6. Be proactive. Need more positive entries on your credit report? Write your utility company and ask them to report your current accounts to the credit bureaus. Your on-time payments to the utilities count for something too.
7. Check your credit report at least once a year. Check your report at least once a year to see if anything has changed. Identity theft is becoming more prevalent in our society and we must stop it. The sooner you detect fraud, the better chances you have of correcting the damage that has been done. You must also check your credit report before applying for loans. Make sure any problems with your credit reports are taken care of and any high balances are paid down because these circumstances can affect your chances of getting a loan.
Stand up for yourself and for what is right. Don’t let creditors and credit reporting agencies take advantage of you. Take care of your credit and never use more than you can afford. You need credit to buy a house and to buy a car. Use it wisely and all you want in life can be yours!
How to contact the three Credit Reporting Bureaus
Equifax Credit Bureau
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta GA 30374-0241
P.O. Box 9701
Allen TX 75013
Trans Union (Credit Bureau)
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester PA 19022