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Credit Report Repair & Dispute

Credit report repair probably ranks up there with car repairs or dental work in terms of popularity, but it’s just as important to your financial status as a working engine is to your mobility.  And, just like a root canal, the sooner you undertake your credit report repair, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

After all, your credit history is used by banks and credit card companies to determine whether you qualify for a loan or credit — and at what interest rate — so it’s in your best interest to make sure your credit report glistens like a supermodel’s smile.  If you need to take the plunge into credit report repair, here are a few tips on the process.

Credit Report Repair:  Step One

Your first step is to double-check any errors or inaccuracies you may have found.  Credit bureaus are obligated to investigate any disputes they receive, usually within 30 days, unless they consider the dispute frivolous.  Since “frivolous,” like “beauty,” may be in the eye of the beholder, your best course of action is to gather evidence to support your claim.

Find original letters and other documents from banks, credit issuers and other companies that prove you closed this account or paid off that loan, and immediately investigate any unauthorized accounts you may have found in your credit report.  (If you find that the unauthorized accounts weren’t opened by a close family member, it could be a sign of identity theft. consult the “What if Identity Theft Prevention Doesn’t Work?” article for information about combating identity theft and restoring your identity.)

Credit Report Repair:  Step Two

Once you’ve documented the errors or inaccuracies, contact the credit bureau(s) to dispute the information. ( Click here to download a sample dispute form.)  Make a copy of your credit report, highlight the items in dispute, explain why you believe the information is inaccurate, and ask the credit bureau to remove or correct the information on your credit report.

Make copies of the documents you gathered to support your claim, and send them, along with your letter and highlighted credit report, via certified, return-receipt mail to the credit bureau.  (Be sure to keep a copy of your letter, and keep all original documents stored safely.)  Assuming your dispute rises above the “frivolous” standard, the credit bureau will investigate it.  Once the investigation is over, the credit bureau is required to write to you with the results.


  • If your dispute is upheld, the credit bureau has to remove the incorrect information from your file.  The bureau also has to give you a free copy of your report, along with the name, address, and phone number of the company that provided the erroneous information.

    And your credit report repair rights don’t end there:  You can also direct the credit bureau to send correction notices to anyone who received your report in the past six months.  If you’ve been job hunting, you can order the bureau to send a corrected copy of your report to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.
  • If your dispute isn’t resolved after the investigation, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You also can ask the credit bureau to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past, although credit bureaus can charge you for this service.

Credit Report Repair:  Step Three

While the credit bureau is investigating, be sure to contact any and all companies (e.g., banks, credit card issuers) that supplied the information you’re disputing.  The credit bureau is also required to contact these companies, but this is your credit history, so you need to be pro-active in your credit report repair.  Send them copies of your documents via certified, return-receipt mail, tell them you’re disputing the data they gave the credit bureau, and ask them to investigate the matter as well.  If the information in question is determined to be inaccurate, the company cannot report it again.

Please note:  No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report. The law allows you to ask for an investigation of information in your file that you dispute as inaccurate or incomplete at no charge to you.  Please visit ftc.gov/credit for more information on credit report repair.

 
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