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How to Remove Bad Information From Your Credit Report

Removing inaccurate or erroneous information from your credit report is the first step towards cleaning up your credit report and ultimately increasing your credit score. Chances are that your report has inaccurate information that you can dispute. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a law which protects the rights of consumers by promoting the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of the information contained in your credit reports. This law was put in place to help ensure that credit bureaus furnish “correct and complete information” to businesses to use when evaluating your application.

Here are the basic credit rights that you have as a result of the Fair Credit Reporting Act:

  • The right to know what is in your file;
  • The right to ask for a credit score;
  • The right to receive a free copy of your credit report when you are denied credit;
  • The right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information found in your credit report;
  • The right to have incorrect information removed from your credit report;
  • The right to have positive information added that may be missing;
  • The ability to add a 100 word statement to explain any derogatory information;
  • The right to remove any credit item that is older than 7 years (or 10 years in the case of bankruptcy);

The credit bureaus have a legal responsibility to comply with the FCRA, and follow the law that protects consumers. The same law states that it is the creditor’s duty to validate the validity or accuracy of any data that is in credit reports. This in turn means that if the creditor cannot validate an entry, they have to remove it from your report. This is why mistakes in your credit are easy to remove, because the Fair credit act requires the bureaus to remove all erroneous, misleading or inaccurate information on your report.

You can start the process by making a list of the accounts you want to dispute as you read through your report. Note that the older it is, the easier it becomes to have bad credit removed from your report. This is because the older it is, the harder it is to be verified. The fact of the matter is, if you dispute a particular item and there is no response from the information provider after two weeks’ time, the item comes off of your report.

The two types of information that may be wrong in the report are:

  1. Personal details
  2. Financial information

Both can be dealt with much the same way.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), both the credit reporting company and the information provider (the company that provided information about you to a credit reporting company) are responsible for correcting erroneous, inaccurate or incomplete information in your report.

Use the following process to dispute any erroneous or inaccurate information in your report:

Step 1:

You can dispute any information in your credit report using this sample dispute letter. Note that when you correspond with the credit bureau, you must communicate on behalf of yourself only. If you are married, this means you and your spouse will need to send separate letters addressing your individual issues. Credit reporting companies are obliged to investigate the items in question — usually within 30 days — unless they consider your dispute frivolous. Be sure to use the following points as a guide.

  1. Provide your complete name and address.
  2. Clearly identify each item in your report you dispute.
  3. Enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled.
  4. Include copies of documents that support your position. Do not send originals.
  5. State the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and request that it be removed or corrected.
  6. Send your letter by certified mail, “return receipt requested,” so you can document what the credit reporting company received.
  7. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.

Here are a few details that MUST be in the dispute letter:

  • Your first and last name spelt accurately.
  • Your current home address.
  • Your SSN.
  • Your driver’s license.
  • Include a pay stub or W2 form that shows your name and your SSN number.
  • An alternative form of identification.

Step 2:

Inform the information provider in writing, that you dispute an item in your credit report. Use this sample dispute letter.

  1. Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position.
  2. If the provider listed an address on your credit report, send your letter to that address. If no address is listed, contact the provider and ask for the correct address to send your letter.
  3. If the information provider does not give you an address, you can send your letter to any business address for that provider.
  4. Provide your complete name and address.
  5. Clearly identify each item in your report you dispute.
  6. Enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled.
  7. Include copies of documents that support your position. Do not send originals.
  8. State the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and request that it be removed or corrected.
  9. Send your letter by certified mail, “return receipt requested,” so you can document what the credit reporting company received.
  10. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.

After filing the dispute, it should take about 30-45 days for your dispute to be processed. After 30-45 days has lapsed, you should expect the next report to have such words like remains, deleted, verified, and updated. If the response isn’t satisfactory, go ahead to file a new dispute.

After the investigation has been completed, the credit reporting company must provide the results to you in writing. If the dispute results in a change to the information in your credit report, the company must also provide a free copy of your report. This free report does not count as your annual free report.

If an item is changed or deleted, the credit reporting company cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that it is accurate and complete. The credit reporting company also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider. If you are not satisfied with the response from the credit bureau, you can file another (unique dispute) for the same account.

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