Winning Your Disputes With Credit Bureaus - Knowing Your Rights!
You see the advertisements in newspapers, on TV, and on the Internet. You hear them on the radio. You get fliers in the mail. You may even get calls from telemarketers offering credit repair services.
They all make the same claims:
* Credit problems? No problem!
* We can erase your bad credit ? 100% guaranteed.
* Create a new credit identity ? legally.
* We can remove bankruptcies, judgments, liens, and bad loans from your credit file forever!
Do yourself a favor and save some money, too. Don't believe these promises. Only time, a conscious effort, and a personal debt repayment plan will improve your credit report.
The FCRA provides a list of rights and procedures that will assist you in clearing away negative remarks and reestablishing your creditworthiness - regardless of your previous credit history. By understanding your rights and using the law to your advantage, it's possible to remove bankruptcy, judgments, late payments, collection accounts, charge-offs, and other negative information from your files permanently.
The first step is to obtain copies of your credit reports from each of the major credit bureaus. You can find the address of your local credit bureau in the yellow pages under "Credit-Reporting Agencies." If you have been denied credit within the past 60 days, you can obtain a free copy of your report by enclosing a photocopy of the denial letter along with your request. Be sure to include your full name, date of birth, Social Security number, and addresses for the past five years. If you have not been denied credit within the last 60 days, you may purchase a copy of your report from each credit bureau. In California, for example, the cost for a copy of your report is from each of the major bureaus. The cost may vary in other states.
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. There is no charge for this. Everything a credit repair clinic can do for you legally, you can do for yourself at little or no cost. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
You also have the right to visit the credit bureau in person to review your file. Simply call the bureau and make an appointment. You will then need to present the proper identification and pay the required fee. The law also allows you to be accompanied by one other person of your choosing.
If you request your credit report by mail, you should receive a copy within three weeks. You will also receive an explanation of the various codes and abbreviations the report contains. According to the FCRA, you have the right to dispute any remark on your report that you "reasonably believe" to be inaccurate or incomplete. The act requires the credit bureau to reinvestigate those disputed items within "a reasonable period of time" - interpreted by the Federal Trade Commission as 30 days. If the bureau finds that the information was incorrect, obsolete, or could no longer be verified, it must correct or delete the information.
If the bureau does not respond to your initial dispute within a "reasonable time," follow up with another letter. This time, demand that the bureau respond to your dispute immediately to prevent your being forced to take legal action. Give them about two weeks to comply and be sure to maintain copies of all correspondence.
If the bureau persists in violating your rights by refusing to reinvestigate your legitimate dispute, send them a final letter demanding action. This time, send copies of your letter, along with the original request, to the Federal Trade Commission and your local office of the attorney general.
About the Author: About The Author
Michael Saunders has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He edits a site on Credit Repair and Debt Consolidation and is president of Information Organizers, LLC.