A good credit score is vital in today’s society. All our ‘American dreams’ depend on it, from simply landing a good job, to being able to afford a rent, a car, a good insurance or buying our dream house. A bad credit will hinder almost every aspect of your life.
But more often than not, we are not responsible for the bad items on our credit reports. According to research, more than 80% of all reports contain some sort of error that we are not guilty for. In other cases, we can become victims of ID theft. Regardless of the scenario, bad items on our reports will affect our lives and they must be dealt with.
Whether you choose to monitor your credit yourself, or hire a professional to do it, whenever you stumble upon an inaccuracy on your report, you should dispute it immediately, before it can do any damage. There are several things you can dispute: accounts that don’t belong to you, payments that you did on time but appear as being late, incorrect credit limits or creditors and more.
Here are some useful tips to help you do that successfully:
- bring evidence: unfortunately, you are the only one who has to provide valid proof, when contesting an item. Credit bureaus are not complied to do so, so if you are the one who wants to clean an error, you have to have written proof that backs you up: bill statements, PayPal history that shows you paid your debt and you made the payments on time and so on.
- get in touch with whoever reported the incorrect information (the responsible creditor) and present him all necessary documents/evidence, along with a letter in which you explain the reasons why you are contesting the item. The letter should also go to the credit bureau where your error appeared. Don’t send the letter online, but via mail and request a return receipt. This way you’ll have proof that you did your part and sent the letter of dispute. The letter for the credit bureau should also contain details on the reported error and of course, clear evidence. Here are the addresses for the 3 major credit bureaus in the US:
TransUnion: Consumer Solutions, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA, 19022-2000
Equifax: P.O. Box 7404256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
Experian: Dispute Department, P.O. Box 9701, Allen, TX 75013
- be patient. We know how frustrating it can be to be told you have to wait when you know you are right, but try to remember that the law specifies that credit bureaus have 30 days to reply and there’s nothing you can do about that. However, once the deadline expires, if you don’t get any response, you can sue them for sums up to $1,000. You can also choose to send a follow-up letter of dispute first and only inform them that you will file a complaint to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau if your error is not fixed.