A good credit score is vital in being financially prosperous. If you have ever tried lending money for a big purchase, you know the importance of one’s credit. It can make or break your ability to purchase, it can determine whether you are able to rent an apartment, and it can even determine whether you will be hired for a job you are applying to.

Therefore, a financially literate individual is one that annually examines their credit report and makes sure everything is accurate. More importantly, if something is not accurate, it is important that you act immediately.

Free Annual Access to Your Credit Report

Every consumer in the United States is entitled to one free credit report a year from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. In order to receive this free credit report, all you need to do is go to the FTC’s website and go through the website that they direct you to.

Once you receive your credit report, go through it with a highlighter in hand and highlight everything that you believe to be inaccurate, unfamiliar, or plainly does not belong to you. This includes previous addresses; claims that payments were 30, 60, or 120 days late on certain accounts; bank accounts or credit cards that you did not open; or anything else that you believe is inaccurate.

How to Dispute Inaccurate Information

Once inaccurate information is found, the next step is to notify the credit reporting agencies. This is done through a dispute letter. This letter needs to be drafted in such a way so that it places the bureau on notice of the inaccuracy and provides support as so why the information they are reporting is inaccurate.

You want to explain your story to the credit reporting agencies. Explain what is wrong with your credit and why.  The more detail the better so treat it like a diary entry.  What is wrong? Why is it wrong? How did you find out? How did this affect you?

It is important that you also attach relevant documentation to your letter. This can include your marked up credit report; your driver’s license if your date of birth is wrong; or loan documents contradicting what is being reported on that loan. If you are disputing an account as being fraudulently opened as the result of identity theft, it is important to first file a police report to that affect. Once you filed a police report, attach the police report to the dispute.

You should attach any documents that you think would help someone determine whether the information in your credit report is accurate or misleading.

Mail the Dispute via Certified Mail

Once you finish drafting your dispute letter, mail it and your supporting documents to each credit reporting agency. Make sure that it is mailed via certified, return receipt requested. Credit reporting agencies will often deny receiving disputes, and thus you want to have proof that they received the dispute. Each address for the three big credit reporting agencies is below:

Equifax: P.O. BOX 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374

Experian: P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013

Trans Union: P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016

What to do if the inaccuracies are verified?

Under the law the credit reporting agencies have 30 days to investigate the matter and either provide you with an answer or notify you that they need more time to continue investigating. Once you receive the results of the re-investigations, check whether the credit reporting agency removed the erroneous item(s). If the inaccuracies are not removed, then the credit reporting agency has violated federal law and you might be entitled to compensation.

If this happens to you, feel free to give my office a call and set up a free consultation.