To get the credit bureaus to correct your credit report, you must follow the dispute process of the FCRA. The FCRA requires you to communicate with the credit bureaus about your disputes. Follow these steps:
You are entitled to a free copy of your credit reports once a year. If you are turned down for credit you are also entitled to a free copy of the credit report that the credit grantor relied on in deciding to reject your credit application. You may have gotten a letter telling you that you were turned down and the name of the credit bureau they used in making that decision.
You may request your credit reports by mail. This way you have a record that you asked for it, the date when you asked for it, and the date when the credit bureau responded. Also, in this way you will receive a printed copy of your credit report. You may also call (877) 322-8228 to request your reports.
Be sure to provide your full name, social security number, date of birth, your addresses for the last 5 years, and name of spouse. You should include a copy of a utility bill or other document to prove where you live. Here are the mailing addresses for the credit bureaus:
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
The next step is to review each report for inaccuracies. You will notice that each credit reporting agency has a different report on you. You have to look at each one separately.
As you review each report, ask yourself:
» Are there any accounts shown on the report that are not mine?
» Are there any accounts that were charged off more than 7 years ago?
» Does the report show a bankruptcy that is not mine?
» If it shows a bankruptcy that is mine, is that bankruptcy more than 10 years old?
You must dispute inaccuracies with the credit reporting agency that issued the report. Send a separate “Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested” dispute letter to each credit bureau that issued a report that contains inaccurate information. You have to tailor your letter to the specific report because they are always different.
State that you are disputing the items mentioned in your letter. Then, item by item, list each inaccuracy in the report. Attach copies of the pages from the report that contain the disputed items and circle them so there is no doubt about which ones you are disputing.
Separately for each, explain why that account is inaccurate or improper. For example: “This account does not belong to me. I live in San Francisco and, I have never had gas and electric service in Cleveland.”
Include supporting documentation
Example: “My bankruptcy should not be reported in my credit report because it is more than 10 years old. I am enclosing a copy of my discharge in bankruptcy dated May 1, 1994. Please delete that bankruptcy from my credit report.”
Demand the bureau correct your report
You should send proof of your correct address such as utility bills and phone bills. Include your driver’s license and/or your social security card to prove you are not the person whose information is being reported. Click here for a sample dispute letter.
Keep copies of your letters and the documentation you sent to the bureaus
I do NOT recommend you request an investigation online because a) you will not have a good paper trail and it may be difficult to prove what you told the bureaus and b) the bureaus may insert arbitration clauses in their websites that they may use against you.
In addition to sending your dispute letter to the credit reporting agency, you also should notify the company that is reporting the inaccurate information about your dispute.
Send a separate letter in which you complain that it is reporting inaccurate information to [name of the credit bureau or bureaus]. Enclose a copy of the letter you sent the credit bureau with copies of your supporting documents.
As always, send it “Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested” and keep a complete copy of everything you send. You will need it if you want to sue later on.
If your requests don’t get results, you have the right to sue the credit bureaus and any company that provided erroneous information to them.
If you have sent the dispute letters to the credit bureaus and to the furnishers of credit, and they still have not corrected your credit report and you want to discuss a potential case, call us toll free at 415-651-1951 or contact us online.
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