If you find a serious error in your credit report, you’ll want to get it corrected pronto. Here are the steps to take and even a sample letter you can tailor to demand action from the reporting agency.
Step 1: Check for all discrepancies
Credit reports from all three bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion can be ordered online. Find all negative credit information and inaccuracies that can lower your credit scores. The following points can be used to determine when the negative records will expire:
• Bankruptcy filing records –It takes 10 years for bankruptcy records to expire from your credit reports. Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing can be removed from the credit reports after 7 years, depending on the preferences of the credit bureau. From the date of filing, the account marked as “included in BK” remains on your report for the next 7 years.
• Charge-off records –This record in your credit report remains for 7 years from the date of filing. This record is the consequence of a creditor or lender charging-off your delinquent debt as his/her loss.
• Collection records –A 180 day late payment leads to the account being sold to the collections. This record in the credit report expires after 7 years after the last 180-day period and sale of the account to another collection agency does not change the expiry date.
• Closed accounts –Closed positive accounts, which have no late payment history, remain on your credit reports for longer than 7 years but closed negative accounts (late payments and other negative records) expire after completion of 7 years.
• Foreclosure records –Expiry time period is 7 years for property deed-in-lieu and foreclosure records.
• Inquiries – Inquiries made because of your credit or loan applications remain on your credit reports for 1-2 years only. Checking your own credit reports and scores does not affect the credit scores.
• Judgments – The expiry date for civil court decisions, small judgments and decisions for child support is also 7 years from the date of filing.
• Late payments –Although all late payment records only after 7 years if the late payment is made after 30 days, then such records have a negative impact for all 7 years.
• Repossession records –7 years is the time period for which vehicles and property repossession remain on your credit reports.
• Tax liens – For city, state, country and federal tax liens, if left unpaid, the tax lien records will remain on your credit report forever. Whenever the lien is paid the record remains on your credit report for 7 more years.
The expiry dates give a correct picture of which records are actually inaccurate and which are not, in your credit report. Other negative records such as fraudulent accounts, crossed records and errors in the data in your report should also be highlighted.
Step 2: How to write a letter of dispute
A letter of dispute should be written to the credit bureaus when the inaccuracies have been established. Each report from all three credit bureaus should be scrutinized and then a letter of dispute should be accordingly sent to the respective bureau. Although online disputing can be done now, it is always better to write a letter of dispute for your credit report. The following template can be used for writing the letter of dispute.
(City, state, and zip code)
Dispute Investigation Department
(City, state, and zip code)
Dispute Investigation Department,
This is to bring to your notice the inaccurate information that is present in my credit report. The following records need to be revised:
(A list of each of the inaccuracies should be provided along with record no. Why it is inaccurate and what is the updation required. )
Please find attached a corrected copy of my credit report for your kind perusal. In addition, please also find attached (list of copies of account records, statements and whatever documents are necessary to prove the inaccuracies.). I am available at (phone no.) and would be happy to answer your questions or give additional information required to resolve my disputes.
(Your full name)
(Social Security number)
Step 3: Submitting a dispute
Only Equifax and TransUnion allow submitting disputes by mail, Experian does it online only. The information identification number located at the bottom of your latest credit report has to be used for submitting disputes online or by phone. Details and information gathered in step 2 will be useful for submitting your dispute to each of the bureaus.
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
2 Baldwin Place
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
Step 4: Keep track of the results
A month is the usual time period that is required by a bureau to investigate your dispute and update your credit reports. After the investigation is over, the bureau sends you the information as to which changes were made and which was not. If some changes were not made then you can either submit another dispute with new support documents or work things out with the company that reported the erroneous information.