The Wells Fargo scandal last month is a reminder that some people have incorrect information listed on their credit reports, which can be very harmful for consumers. Errors might include debts that are not yours or the wrong names, accounts or amounts owed – just to name a few examples. Some credit reports might show signs of identity theft. Fortunately, it is possible to remove errors from your credit report.
If you plan to correct errors, first review our blog post on how to pull your credit history for free. Pulling your free annual credit report will let you know of any mistakes before they come back to haunt you later. After you have received your credit report, it is time to develop a strategy for removing errors.
- Write dispute letters: You can dispute errors by sending handwritten or typed letters to TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. If writing is not one of your strong points, the Federal Trade Commission has a sample dispute letter on its website. Never dispute errors online through the three credit agencies. Online dispute forms have hidden arbitration clauses. By filing online, you waive your right to take your case before a jury. If your credit report lists multiple errors, you will have to write letters and include documentation for each error. The Federal Trade Commission recommends sending these certified with a “return receipt requested.”
- Be detailed: When you send your letter to the three credit agencies, include details. Include your name, address and which account or accounts you are disputing. Mention in detail why you are disputing the accounts. You can even include a copy of your credit report and circle the errors you are disputing. Request that these errors be removed or corrected.
- Use documentation to support your claims. Only send copies of documents to the three credit agencies. If you include original copies, they could be lost in the mail and/or never returned. Documentation adds details and creditability to your disputes.
- After disputing with the credit agencies, dispute with data furnishers, lenders or collectors: Next, dispute errors with data furnishers, lenders and collectors (the parties who provide information about you to the three credit agencies). By filing disputes with the three credit agencies first, you start the investigative process under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. File disputes with data furnishers by sending handwritten dispute letters and documentation.
- Keep copies of all letters and documentation sent: Always keep copies of all items sent to the three credit agencies and data furnishers. If the letters do not work, you may have other legal options, but the letters themselves will be important evidence.
What Happens After You File Credit Report Disputes?
The three credit agencies have 30 days to investigate your dispute unless the it is deemed frivolous. They will forward your dispute, including the letters you sent and copies of the documentation, to the data furnishers who have listed the erroneous accounts on your credit report. Data furnishers will then investigate your disputes and send their findings back to the three credit agencies.
Once the investigations are completed, the credit agencies are required to send you the results. If your disputes were successful and resulted in changes, the credit agencies you filed with must provide a free copy of your credit report. This will not count as your annual free credit report. If requested, you can have the credit agencies send notices of corrections to employers or lenders.
The Kansas City bankruptcy attorneys at The Sader Law Firm are dedicated to helping people find ways to manage difficult financial situations.