Credit Repair: How to Help Yourself
“Credit problems? No problem!”
“We can permanently remove from your file of bankruptcies, judgments, liens and unpaid loans!”
“We can erase your bad credit history – 100% guaranteed”
“Create a new credit identity legally!”
Do yourself a favor, and save some money. In fact, lawyers working at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the national consumer protection agency, say they have never seen a legitimate credit repair operation make such statements. The truth is that there is no quick fix to recover your credit worthiness. You can improve your credit report legitimately, but it will take time, a constant effort and you will have to keep firmly attached to a personal repayment plan for your debts.
Look, 99% of the offers are out there are BS and I’m sick of people falling prey to these companies so, although there’s plenty of info out there already, I thought I’d cover it again just to be safe.
No one can legally remove accurate negative credit information from a credit report. If you wish to dispute the information recorded in your credit file because you believe it to be inaccurate or incomplete, you may request an investigation – at no charge. Some people hire a company to do this research, but whatever a credit repair company can do legally for you, you can do it alone and free or at low cost. According to what is established by law:
You have the right to receive a free copy of your credit report if a company takes an “adverse action” against you, for example, if you deny your application for credit, insurance or employment. You must apply for your credit report within 60 days of the date you receive the notice notifying you of the adverse measure. The notice will provide you with the company’s name, address and phone number of consumer reports. You also have the right to receive a free report each year if you are unemployed and plan to seek work within the next 60 days, if you receive social assistance, or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.
Upon request, each of the country’s consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – must provide you with a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. To apply for your credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. You can request your reports from each of the three companies at the same time or you can schedule them throughout the year.
It costs nothing to dispute the errors or the outdated data of your credit report. Both the consumer reporting company and the information provider (the person, company or organization that provides information about you to a consumer reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To assert all your rights, contact the consumer reporting company and the information provider.
Do it yourself
Step 1: Inform the consumer reporting company in writing what your report data is that you think are inaccurate. Use this letter template. Beforehand, if you accept a letter written in Spanish, otherwise use the English model. Add copies (NOT originals) of all the documents that support your position.
In addition to including your full name and address, in your letter you must identify each of the items in your report that you intend to dispute, state the facts and the reasons for your questioning and ask them to correct or delete them. If you wish, you can also include a copy of your credit report by marking the disputed items with a circle. Send your letter by certified mail with “acknowledgment” to document that the consumer reporting company received your correspondence. Keep copies of your dispute letter and attached documents.
Consumer reporting companies should investigate items that you dispute within 30 days – unless they find that your dispute is baseless. They should also send you all relevant information you have sent about the inaccuracy of the information to the organization that provided it. When the information provider receives a dispute notification from the consumer reporting company he has to investigate and review the relevant information and report the results of the investigation to the consumer reporting company.
In the event that the investigation reveals that the disputed information is inaccurate, you should notify the consumer reporting companies in the country so that they can correct it in their respective records.
Once the investigation is completed, the consumer reporting company must report the results to you in writing, and if a dispute arises as a result of your dispute, you should also send a free copy of your credit report. If any data is changed or deleted, the consumer reporting company may not re-place the disputed information in your file unless the information provider verifies that it is accurate and complete.
The consumer reporting company must also send you a written notice detailing the name, address, and telephone number of the information provider. If you request it, the consumer reporting company should send notices to notify corrections made to all those who have received their credit report during the previous six months. You may also request that a corrected copy of your report be sent to all those who have received your credit report for employment purposes during the previous two years.
If the investigation does not resolve your dispute with the consumer reporting company, you may request that your statement and your future reports include a statement of your dispute. You can also ask the consumer reporting company to forward your statement to anyone who has received a copy of your report recently. You may have to pay a fee for this service.
Step 2: Inform the creditor or other information provider in writing that you are disputing an item. Include copies (NOT original) of the documents that support your position. Many information providers establish a specific domicile for disputes. If the information provider reports the item to a consumer reporting company, you must include a notice of your dispute. And if the information was found to be inaccurate – the information provider can not report it again.
That’s all for now, come back tomorrow for part 2…