Credit Wars - Fixing Credit Report Errors
The term 'sticker shock' is a pretty common phrase. But have you ever heard about credit rejection shock?
Credit rejection shock can happen when you apply for a new line of credit, like a new credit car or a mortgage, and get a rejection for reasons that you
just don't understand. To make matters worse, when you finally look at your credit report, you see that there are entries that you do not recognize and
certainly do not agree with.
You may be angry - furious, even - when you experience this. There's no need to panic, though, and there are ways to fix mistakes on your credit
report. Mistakes on credit reports are common and you're not alone in needing to fix them. It's important, though, to document the process every step
of the way and stay persistent with the credit reporting bureaus and your creditors.
Know Whom You're Fighting
Your first step is getting a copy of your credit report from the three main agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. You can get your reports online
or by calling them. You are also entitled to a free report from the reporting company if you were rejected for something on your credit report.
Each credit report has several sections. The sections cover your personal information, report requests, accounts in good standing, credit items, and
items that could be potentially negative.
Analyze each of the three reports and determine what information is accurate. You should be familiar with most of the information on the report. You
are looking for any errors. Make a list of items that are errors, questionable, or negative in nature. You should also be looking for any discrepancies
between the reports from the three agencies. Doing all this will give you a good point from which to resolve issues and hopefully improve your credit
Document and Dispute
There are steps you can take to resolve real mistakes on your credit report.
The credit reporting agencies are responsible for correcting inaccuracies and incomplete information, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act
(FCRA). This policy gives you the responsibility to contact the agencies and correct any inaccuracies that you find.
Writing Dispute Letters
You'll need to include a clear reason why you are disputing items when you write to the credit bureaus. You also should include any evidence or
documents that help support your reasons for disputing the items. Make photocopies of everything, and send everything through registered or certified
mail. Doing this will give you a record of what was sent, when, and when it was received.
Keep in Touch
The agency is required to investigate the issue and information within 30 days of receiving your letter. The agency will pass on the dispute to the entity
or creditor that gave that information to the credit agency initially. The creditor or provider also must investigate the complaint. They are obligated to
report their findings to the credit bureau.
If the agency and creditor decide that you are correct, the change will be made on your report. This will make your report more accurate. If the dispute
isn't resolved, however, you may ask to have your dispute statement included with your credit report.
Keep a Paper Trail
You need to create an organized system to keep track of the letters and documentation that you send to your creditor and the credit bureaus if you are
serious about repairing bad credit status. You may wish to use some sort of checklist or spreadsheet, whichever works easiest for you. Although this
may seem like a lot of work, it will be helpful when you have to make repeated phone calls and write letter after letter. This system will show when you
have called or written, whom you talked to, the company's response, and what you have sent. Take careful notes about the date and time of each
phone conversation, along with the name of the person representing the company.
You should hold onto this information for a few years after the item is resolved. It's common for items to reappear even after they have been removed.
Accurate but Negative Items
It is possible to dispute some negative yet accurate items on your report. If you were never notified of the problem, you are entitled to dispute the
report, according to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003. You handle negative but accurate items in the same way that you handle
inaccurate items on your credit report.
Help from the professionals
It's possible to repeat a dispute if you are not satisfied with the action the credit bureaus and your creditors have taken. There is no charge for
requesting another investigation.
If you honestly feel as if you have been wronged, however, it may be beneficial to hire an attorney. This is when your paper trail will prove especially
Always Another Day
Don't beat yourself up over your past mistakes, or about having to go through the dispute process. Many people find themselves in this position. You
will need to be persistent, but organized and polite. These steps may seem easy, but you must remember that credit bureaus are not always willing to
cooperate with you. You need to make your credit report your No. 1 priority and not trust the credit bureaus to take care of it for you.
If you are unsuccessful, you may find some small comfort in knowing that negative marks are removed completely in seven years.
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