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What To Do If Your Credit Report Has Errors

Your credit report is filled with all kinds of information about you.  It reports information about more than just how you pay your bills.  It also provides a residential history, as well as whether you have been sued, arrested or have filed bankruptcy.  One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to run your own credit report.  Although the credit reporting process is completely automated and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) works to continually ensure accuracy and privacy, it is still possible to have errors on your credit report.   These errors can come in many forms, such as an account that isn’t yours, a mis-reported bankruptcy, wrong address or even name, an incorrectly labeled open account just to name a few.   Because these reports will determine whether or not you are eligible for a loan, it is imperative that you know what you are up against so you can proactively correct any mistakes before they delay or prohibit you from getting a loan.

What do you do if you find errors? The first thing you can do is to write a letter to the reporting agency that you feel has incorrect information.  This is especially prudent if you are a victim of identity theft.   Let them know what you find that is incorrect and provide any documentation that supports your claim.  Always be sure to send copies, keeping the originals in your own file.  You can find a sample dispute letter from the Federal Trade Commission website here: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0384-sample-letter-disputing-errors-your-credit-report.  Include a copy of your credit report, circling the disputed information.  Be sure to send your letter via certified mail, “return receipt requested,” so that you have a complete record.  Keep copies of everything you send to them.

Credit reporting agencies have 30 days to review your dispute and respond accordingly, unless they find the dispute to be frivolous.  If the credit reporting company finds that your disputed information is in fact inaccurate, they are required to notify all three of the nationwide credit reporting companies so that they can correct the error.  Once the investigation is completed and they have notified all three companies, they must provide you with the results of their findings, along with a new (and free) copy of your credit report.  This second report does not count against your one free credit report for the year.  Additionally, upon your request, the credit reporting agency must provide a corrected copy of your report to anyone who requested a copy within the last six months and to anyone who pulled credit for employment purposes in the past two years.

If you are unable to have a disputed item removed, you have the right to include your statement on the credit report.  Your explanation needs to be specific and concise; keeping to a maximum of 100 words.  This statement will become a part of your credit report until such time as the disputed item stays on your report.