Correcting Inaccuracies in a Credit Report


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Information that is inaccurate or incomplete in your credit file can result in adversely affecting your credit. Possible results include being denied credit, receiving a higher interest rate or receiving less favorable terms. If you encounter information of this nature, you can take steps necessary to correct this information.

Right to Accurate Information

The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides that the person or company as well as the credit reporting company is responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information contained in the credit report. Part of this process involves evaluating your credit report periodically to find inaccuracies.

Right to Credit Report

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a consumer is entitled to one free credit report from each credit bureau each year. There are additional times when a right may be triggered to request a report, such as looking for a job or being on certain types of public assistance. This information is obtainable online at annualcreditreport.com.

You will need to provide basic information about yourself, including your name, Social Security number, address and date of birth. You may have to include a previous address and answer questions about your existing credit in order to verify your identity.

Letter

Although there are various ways in which you can inform the credit bureau of the inaccuracies in your credit report including emailing the credit bureau or contacting it, it is usually preferable to write the credit bureau a letter. This letter gives the credit bureau an opportunity to examine a tangible document.

The letter regarding the inaccuracy should detail each specific instance in which an inaccuracy lies. You should state why this information is inaccurate and what is accurate. Provide copies of documents supporting your position. Request that the necessary change be made to reflect the accurate details. Include your full name and address in the heading or at the bottom of the letter. Provide a copy of your credit report. Indicate the items in dispute by circling or highlighting them. Send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep a copy of the letter and supporting documentation.

Investigation

Once the credit bureau receives a report of misinformation, it will begin an investigation. As part of this investigation, the credit bureau may forward your letter to the company involved in the dispute. The information provider must investigate the situation and review the relevant information. It must then provide the credit reporting company with a report detailing this investigation.

Results of Investigation

After conducting the investigation, the credit bureau will determine the result. If the report is unjustified, no change will be made. However, if the report is justified, the credit bureau will either update the status of the information in dispute or delete it altogether. If the information is inaccurate, the credit reporting bureau must report this to the other two major credit bureau. Whatever result is reached, the credit bureau will notify you of it. This often occurs within 30 days of your report. If the report resulted in a change, the credit reporting bureau must also send a free corrected version of the credit report.

If the investigation did not result in your favor or you are otherwise dissatisfied, you can ask that a statement be included in your credit report regarding the dispute.

Dispute Letter

You can also inform the company that provided adverse information about you that you are disputing this adverse information. Again, prepare a letter and include copies that support your position. This time, send the letter directly to that company.

Considerations

Not every credit account that you have will be listed with the credit bureau. Although major companies and creditors tend to report to the credit bureau, some companies may not report information even if it would be helpful to you. If negative information is on your credit report, it can stay there for seven years or ten years if it involves bankruptcy. If the credit information involves an unpaid judgment, it can stay on a report for seven years or until the statute of limitations expires, whichever is longer.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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