Many consumers lives are dependent on their ability to maintain a strong credit standing. Those who have good credit are quick to share that information with you and those who don’t are usually ashamed. In fact, poor credit scores have launched an entire industry of credit repair companies who are willing to take money to improve your score. While credit repair companies may be useful, we suggest you take a stab at fixing your report all on your own.
It is important to understand that no one can legally remove accurate information from your report. A credit repair company takes your money to dispute negative, yet accurate information-you can do that all on your own. Lying about an account that you simply want removed from your credit report will likely harm your credibility when it comes time to dispute negative inaccurate information. Instead of hiring a company, you can
request an investigation, at no charge, of information on your file that should either not be reported at all or may be reporting inaccurately.
By law you are entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, and you are also entitled to a free credit report after receiving a credit denial. You must request a copy of your report from the credit reporting agency within 60 days of the denial to take advantage of the free report. You may also be entitled to one free copy of your report if you are unemployed and plan to look for new employment within 60 days.
Once you have obtained a copy of your reporting make sure to review the information and mark the items you feel are inaccurate. Once you have made a list of this information, draft a letter to the credit reporting agency, (NOT the creditor with which you have an account) explaining in detail why the information is inaccurate and why it should be removed and/or updated. Again make sure to only tell the truth in your explanation and provide supporting documents that may help the credit reporting agency conduct an investigation into your request. We suggest you send the letter certified mail, “return receipt requested”, so that you have proof it was received. Make sure to also save a copy of everything for your files. You may need the information down the line if you get involved in lawsuit.
Click here for a sample dispute letter.
Upon receipt of your dispute, the credit reporting agencies must investigate within 30 days. Once the investigation is complete, the agency must get back to you with the results. If an item is changed or deleted, the credit reporting agency cannot put the information back on your report unless the information provider verified that it was in fact accurate and complete. If an investigation does not resolve your dispute you are entitled to ask that a statement be included on your report about the accuracy of the information.
After disputing with the credit reporting agencies, it cannot hurt to write a letter to the creditors as well. Again, try to include supporting documents and any information you may have that will aid in their investigation and hopefully allow them to change their reporting.
Lastly, in the event you have accurate negative information on your report, the only thing that can make it fall of your report is time. Most negative information can only remain on your report for between 7 and 10 years and the older the accounts are the less the affect your score. Spend a little time reviewing your report and you will find you are capable of repairing your credit all on your own.