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Disputing Errors In Your Credit Report
Best Way To Improve Your Credit Score And Get A Better Credit Rating

It's simple to dispute errors in your credit report. Every U.S. consumer has the legal right to challenge derogatory marks in their credit report that is found to be untrue, incorrect or outdated. Here's why:

Your credit report needs to be as correct as possible, as it is the key to shaping up your finances.

Your credit history contains information about who you work for, where you live, where you've lived the past several years, how you handle paying your monthly bills, and whether you've been sued, arrested, or if you've filed for bankruptcy in the past.

Your credit report could be costing you money if it contains errors or outdated negative information, as your report forms the basis of your credit score, and these days, your credit score has become instrumental in presenting lenders, employers and insurers a financial "snapshot" of your creditworthiness.

The good news is that resolving key derogatory issues in your credit report is within your reach. If you don't like the current poor condition of your credit rating, you can do most things yourself to spruce up and boost your credit score, legally and relatively quickly. You can fix your own credit.

Firms gathering and reselling information about consumers are called 'Consumer Reporting Agencies' ("CRA's" for short). The most common CRA is the credit bureau. They track and compile your past use of credit into reports that are sold to bankers, creditors, employers, insurers, and other businesses in the form of a consumer report. The most common of these are your "FICO score," named after Fair Isacc Company, which developed the algorithm which automatically calculates this 3-digit credit score.

Credit Questions:
Our reader's ask:

"How does deletion of derogatory information affect your credit score?"

Once you have gotten a copy of your credit report free, you can now begin the process of reviewing your credit reports and taking action to challenge inaccurate or outdated credit information contained in these credit reports. (If you are curious enough to want to see your current FICO score, you'll need to pay $5 to $10 at the time of your order. The credit report information is free; the FICO score remains a chargeable item.)

The CRA and the organization that provided the information to the CRA have very strict legal responsibilities for ensuring that your credit report is accurate and up-to-date. To protect all your rights under the law, contact both the CRA and the information provider when you need to dispute credit entries.

The Big 3 Credit Bureaus:

Experian, P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013
Trans Union
Trans Union, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022
CSC Credit Services, Box 98122, El Paso, TX 79998

Disputing errors in your credit report is easy when you know how!
To dispute errors in your credit, inform the CRA in writing what information you believe is inaccurate. Include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each item in your report you dispute, state the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and request deletion or correction.

You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled. Your letter may look something like the one below. Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the CRA received. Always keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.

Free Sample Dispute Letter

Today's Date

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code

Complaint Department
Name of Credit Reporting Agency
Their Street Address
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Sir or Madam:

   I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. The items I dispute also are encircled on the attached copy of the report I received.

   This item (identify the specific items disputed by name, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.) is (inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why). I am requesting that the item be deleted (or request another specific change) to correct the information.

   Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records, court documents) supporting my position. Please reinvestigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct) the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.


Your full legal name

Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing)

CRAs must reinvestigate the item(s) in question... usually within 30 days ... unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all relevant data you provide about the dispute to the information provider.

After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the CRA, it must investigate, review all relevant information provided by the CRA, and report the results to the CRA. If the information provider finds the disputed information to be inaccurate, it must notify all nationwide CRAs so that they can correct this information in your file.

Disputed information that cannot be verified must be deleted from your file.

If your report contains inaccurate information, the CRA must correct it.

If an item is incomplete, the CRA must complete it. For example, if your file showed that you were late making payments, but failed to show that you were no longer delinquent, the CRA must show that your payments are now current.

If your file shows an account that belongs only to another person, the CRA must delete it.

When the reinvestigation is complete, the CRA must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or removed, the CRA cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies its accuracy and completeness, and the CRA gives you a written notice of its intent to reinsert the items that includes the name, address, and phone number of the provider.

If you request, the CRA must send notices of any correction to anyone who received your report in the past six months. You can have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes. If a reinvestigation does not resolve your dispute, ask the CRA to include your statement of the dispute in your file and in future reports.

In addition to writing to the CRA, you should tell the creditor or other information provider in writing that you dispute an item. Be sure to include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider continues to report the disputed item to any CRA after receiving your notice, it must include a notice that you dispute the item. If you are correct ... that is, if the information is not accurate ... then the information provider may not report it again.

These agencies must respond to a dispute sent to them within a reasonable time, unless they feel it is frivolous or irrelevent. Thus, if you've submitted a scrawled letter on the back of an old shopping list demanding "Clean up my credit or I'll sue you!," your request could very well be dismissed. However, by presenting your request in a professional manner, you've started the clock running, so to speak, beginning a research process which will get to the bottom of the issue.

The credit bureaus will allow your creditors 30 working days to respond to their investigation. Therefore, the agency itself may not receive the information for a whole month when you add in the weekends. If creditors do not response within this time frame, then the disputed items will usually be removed from your credit report. This is not to say that the item won't mysteriously re-appear after a passage of time, but there's a very good likelyhood that this negative credit report entry will be removed completely. If not, it will be necessary to work directly with the creditor who is reporting the erroneous information to have it removed permanently.

Accurate Negative Information

When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. Accurate negative information generally can stay on your report for seven years. There are certain exceptions:

Bankruptcy information may be reported for 10 years. Credit information reported in response to an application for a job with a salary of more than $75,000 has no time limit.

Information about criminal convictions has no time limit. Credit information reported because of an application for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance has no time limit.

Default information concerning U.S. Government insured or guaranteed student loans can be reported for seven years after certain guarantor actions.

Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations within your state runs out, whichever is longer.

Seven-year Reporting Period

There is a standard method for calculating the seven-year reporting period. Generally, the period runs from the date that the event took place.

With regard to any delinquent account placed for collection (internally or by referral to a third-party debt collector, whichever is earlier) charged to profit and loss, or subjected to any similar action, the seven-year period is calculated from the date of the delinquency that occurred immediately before the collection activity, charge to profit and loss, or similar action.

For example, assume that your payments on a loan were late in January, but that you caught up in February. You were late again in May, but caught up in July. You were again late in September, but did not catch up before the account was turned over to a collection agency in December. You made no more payments on the account, and it is charged to profit and loss in July of the following year.

Under the "Fair Credit Reporting Act," (FCRA) the January and May late payments each can be reported for seven years. The collection activity and the charge to profit and loss can be reported for seven years from the date of the September payment, which was the delinquency that occurred immediately before those activities.

Adding Accounts to Your File

Your credit file may not reflect all your credit accounts. Although most national department store and all-purpose bank credit card accounts will be included in your file, not all creditors supply information to CRAs: Some travel, entertainment, gasoline card companies, local retailers, and credit unions are among those creditors that don't.

If you've been told that you were denied credit because of an "insufficient credit file" or "no credit file" and you have accounts with creditors that don't appear in your credit file, ask the CRA to add this information to future reports.

Although they are not required to do so, many CRAs will add verifiable accounts for a fee. However, understand that if these creditors do not report to the CRA on a regular basis, the added items probably will not be updated in your file.

To learn your full consumer rights under the FCRA, visit

Find out if disputing a 30 day late is worth the effort. And find full details on how you can fix your credit score, step-by-step, which can be found at

For more information, read: "How To Read & Understand Your Credit Report"

Need a free copy of your credit reports? Click here to find out how to get your free credit reports online.

Find out how to settle your debts by writing your own debt settlement letters for free yourself...

What you need to know BEFORE writing a debt negotiation letter to creditors ... read more at:

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