Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Dispute your credit report

If you don't know where to start to dispute an item on your credit report, here's some helpful tips from Bankrate. First, get your report from annualcreditreport.com and get it nowhere else. All the other sites are, frankly, just trying to sign you up for some service or another. annualcreditreport.com is the only way to get a true free credit report.

Bankrate lists 5 ways to dispute your report:

1. Do it yourself
2. Hire a repair agency
3. See a credit counselor
4. Hire an attorney
5. Work with a reseller

That looks pretty scary, but I seriously doubt it will take more than step 1 to get it fixed, although you may have to try it a couple of times and it may take a while. Agencies really don't do anything that you can't do yourself for free.

They recommend 3 ways to do it yourself: by certified mail, by phone, and online. I think your only choice here is between phone and online. You must send a dispute by certified mail (with receipt) and retain a copy of your letter. Otherwise you are just blowing hot air and have no proof of the dispute! Paying for the certified mail and the receipt is well worth it. If you want to call them or do something online with them, fine, but the physical mailing is a necessity. If you don't know what to send them, bankrate offers a letter template that you can easily fill out. You can copy/paste it from here:

Credit Agency Name
Credit Agency Address
Re: Credit report error

Dear Sir or Madam:

I have discovered inaccurate information on my credit report maintained by credit agency name. The report is in my name -- enter your full name here -- and my Social Security number is enter your Social Security number here.

Enclosed, please find a copy of my credit report containing the mistaken data. I have highlighted the errors. Specifically, the following information is incorrect:

(Copy and paste as necessary)
Company name:
Account number:

Incorrect information:

This is incorrect because:

Please investigate this matter with the creditor in question and you should find there is an error. When that is confirmed, please remove this error from my credit report.

In addition, please make this letter a permanent part of my credit record.
If you have any questions about my request or the credit information in question, please do not hesitate to call me at -enter your phone number here-.
Thank you for your prompt attention to my request.

Your Signature
Your Typed Name
Your Address
City, State and ZIP Code

Enclosure: credit report

Here are the addresses of the 3 CRAs.

TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000

National Consumer Assistance Center
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013

Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374

Of course, continue checking your credit report once a year to make sure it stays off your report for good. For more information, check out the article.

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