You have obtained your credit report and read through it with a fine-tooth comb, thanks to the help of the How to Read Your Credit Report article. So what do you do if you see something that looks wrong?
Identity theft is serious and happens all over the world. If there are accounts on your credit report that you did not open, you need to take action immediately. The CGS Team is going to walk you through a few steps to help you get your credit report back to normal!
Submit a Dispute
The first step in fixing an incorrect credit report is disputing the errors with the actual credit reporting bureaus. Does the error or incorrect account show up under Experian, TransUnion and Equifax? If so, then you need to dispute with all 3 agencies.
If it only appears under one of the agencies, then disputing with the one showing the errors is all that is necessary.
To submit a formal dispute, you must submit a letter in writing. The letter should outline each item that you are disputing, as well as stating facts that support your claim.
Include supporting documentation (if applicable) and reference it in the letter as well. Lastly, under each item, request correction or deletion of the item. This is so the credit agencies understand the exact action to take.
The Federal Trade Commission has a great dispute letter draft that you can reference when righting your letters. Check out the draft by clicking here. The credit bureaus are required to review your request within 30 days, unless it is deemed to be an unreasonable request.
Remember to keep copies of everything you send to the bureaus. Also, consider using certified mail so that you can track when they have been received. Since your credit report is a necessity of life, treat your requests to fix or adjust your reports seriously.
Keep all of your copies and documentation in a specific folder for safekeeping. Ensure to keep any correspondence received in the folder as well.
Talk to Your Lenders
The next step is to inform the lender or creditor in question that you are disputing the items with the credit bureaus. Send a letter explaining why the disputes are taking place.
Be sure to include any relevant supporting documentation. The address of the lender should be available on your credit report. If only a phone number is available, give them a call and request their address.
When sending the letter, request that the lender send you any correspondence that is sent to the credit bureaus. Keep all of your documentation in a safe place.
Expect to Wait for a Response
Once both of your letters have been submitted, expect the full process to take anywhere between 30-90 days. Although the credit bureaus are required to review your request within 30 days, there are additional research tasks that must take place.
When the investigation is complete, the credit bureaus are required to give you written results of the findings.
Also, if there were any changes made to your credit report, you are entitled to a copy of the updated report. This doesn’t count as your free annual report, either! Once the disputed item has been deemed valid and removed from your report, lenders are no longer allowed to report the item against you.
According to the FTC, “If you ask, the credit reporting company must send notices of any corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. You can have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.”
This process is a hassle, but imagine what life would be like if you didn’t fix your credit! You may not be approved for the next car or house you buy, you may get an increase in your interest rates, or you might be reported for failing to pay on time. Ensuring your credit report only reflects what it should is worth the effort.
Do you have any experiences in fixing your credit report or disputing errors? Have you been a victim of identity theft? Share your feedback and experiences by leaving a comment below. We can all learn how to protect ourselves in these situations by sharing with each other!