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Insider Tricks to Remove Errors From Your Credit Report

August 8, 2016

Imagine the feeling you'd have if you found that your clean credit report had errors! Well, guess what? If you're not checking your credit report, there's a reasonable chance that this is already happening to you. Even if those errors are no fault of yours, you could really be in trouble.

A single mistake on your credit report can destroy your score, costing you thousands of dollars in higher interest rates, greater upfront deposits and increased insurance premiums. It could be the difference between getting a credit line or a mortgage and getting turned down.

Errors can happen when your file gets mixed up with an individual possessing a similar name, or because of identity theft. Mistakes on your report could also be the result of inaccurate reporting by data furnishers, such as banks, lenders, debt collectors or rental companies that supply information to credit bureaus. Even applying for a credit card in the checkout line of a favorite retailer could send misspelled or incorrectly entered information to your report.

As a consumer, you may have already spent considerable time and effort trying to get errors off your credit report, but to no avail. For your benefit, our consultants compiled a series of steps that are sure to help you succeed in getting mistakes removed from your credit report.

The first step is to request a new credit report directly from the credit bureau that is reporting erroneous information. Avoid getting it from a third party reseller or a lender, as they may provide you with a merged report which may or may not show data being reported by each individual bureau. An error could be reported by only one, two, or all three bureaus, so it is important to review each of them. Obtaining an accurate and up-to-date report is essential for your records. It will not only come into use while submitting your dispute, but also if you need to take legal action.

Carefully scan your report for both large and small errors. While major errors, like a debt that you've already paid off, can have a negative effect on your credit score, even small errors, such as incorrect addresses or misspelled names, can cause substandard information to get into the report that is pulled by lenders. These errors can be problematic when refinancing or applying for a mortgage or applying for credit. Worse, it could even indicate identity theft. Make sure that all personal information including your name, current address and Social Security number are correct on all bureaus.

Instead of disputing any errors online, write or type out the dispute letter yourself. Online dispute forms tend to incorporate waiver clauses in the click agreement, which means you give up the right to sue the bureaus if they are wrong. Also, by writing a separate letter, you will be able explain your case in detail – something that may not be possible online.

Dispute each error on your report through separate letters instead of putting them all in the same letter. You'll also have to write separate letters to all three credit bureaus to inform them individually about the mistake, or if the errors are on one bureau but not another.

Keep your dispute letter simple – don't use fancy words or legal terms. Explain the issue clearly and politely. Be firm in the request that the information is incorrect and that it needs to be removed.

Attach evidence with your dispute letter, just in case you need to take legal action to prove that the credit bureau is not correcting a valid mistake. Additionally, make copies of all correspondence that is sent to the bureaus. It always helps to send them a copy of your Driver’s License or ID and a recent utility bill. Often they will request the verification to prove that it is you submitting the request, so having the information with the original dispute will save time.

Along with the credit bureaus, also mail the dispute to the data furnishers that gave out incorrect information, as doing this may help solve the issue more quickly. Ensure that you send all correspondence by certified mail, so that you can prove that the letter was delivered to them.

Maintain organized records so that you can refer to them and, if required, present them in court if it comes to that. You may even need them again in the future, since, in the case of identity theft or name mix-ups, errors tend to reappear on the one's file. Keep track of the date you sent each dispute, and a copy of any correspondence each bureau sends you in response to the disputes.

If despite all your efforts, the error persists, you may want to consult a Consumer Law Attorney who has experience with consumer credit disputes. You can locate a good lawyer at the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. Additionally, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which will in turn forward your complaint to the credit bureau and ask for a reply.

The other solution is to work with a reputable credit repair agency. There are many companies, such as Kaydem Credit Help, that provide credit repair services. Make sure to pick a reputable agency, one that will really go to bat for you. Many companies charge an ongoing monthly fee to keep clients on long-term.

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