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Dispute Credit Report: Ways to Dispute Credit Errors

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Dispute Credit Report Errors

Credit reports have increasingly become consumers’ passport to the financial world. Whether you want to rent an apartment, get car insurance or apply for a credit card, the data in your credit report will be one of the crucial measures used to judge you.

That’s why you want to ensure that the information in your report — which is used to formulate your credit score — is free of any inaccuracies. Even if you’re not denied credit, a small error here or there can cost you more in interest.

The three big credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — and the entities that provide them with data (like lenders) are required to investigate any potential errors. But, as I reported in a recent story, their investigations aren’t very thorough.

So as with most everything else, you need to be your own advocate. Here are several tips on the right way to file a dispute, compiled from consumer attorneys, credit experts and consumer advocates.

Get your report. There’s only one place you should go to get a copy of your credit report: AnnualCreditReport.com. All consumers are entitled to one free credit from each of the three major credit bureaus through this site. (In fact, you can forgo the credit monitoring services many of them sell by creating your own: simply order a report from one of the agencies once every four months.)

Create a paper trail. The credit bureaus allow you to file your dispute online, and it’s probably the fastest and simplest way to go. But don’t. Experts say it’s better to send a written dispute via certified mail (return receipt requested).

Sending a written complaint may not help resolve your problem any more than filing an online dispute. But it will help later on, say, if your problem isn’t resolved or if you eventually need to show a record of your efforts in court.

Don’t be restricted by the dispute forms that the bureaus recommend you use. Experts recommend coloring outside of those lines. Attach a letter that explains the problem, and provide copies (not originals) of any supporting documentation, like a canceled check illustrating that you made a payment. The Federal Trade Commission has a sample dispute letter on its Web site.

The credit reporting bureaus are required to forward all relevant information to the organization that is the source of the error, though consumer advocates and lawyers told me this never happens. (In fact, the system the bureaus use to communicate with creditors doesn’t allow them to forward any attachments. Instead, workers boil down all the information you send into a one- to three-digit computer code — for instance “account not his/hers.” That’s what is forwarded to the creditor, who must then perform an investigation of its own.) More at How to Dispute Credit Report Errors

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Credit Report Dispute: Ways to Dispute Credit Report Errors

“Want to do a credit report dispute but not sure how? Let this article help. Check it out now!”

Ways to Do a Credit Report Dispute

In the early 70’s the Fair Credit Reporting Act (hereafter “FCRA”) was enacted as a way to set guidelines regarding credit reporting industry practices, procedures and consumer protections.

That Act has evolved over time, and thanks to multiple amendments the current version gives consumers a variety of options when it comes to challenging information on their credit reports.

Those options are:

1. The Most Common Method – Direct to Credit Bureau
By far the most common way consumers challenge information on their credit report is by filing a dispute directly with one or more of the national credit reporting agencies; Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

You can file a direct-to-bureau dispute via the credit bureaus’ websites, a letter or over the telephone.

When the credit bureaus receive your communication they are obligated by the FCRA to show the offensive item as being “in dispute.” They are also obligated to contact the furnishing party, normally a bank or collection agency, and verify the accuracy of the information in dispute.

This process cannot take longer than 30 to 45 days and if the mistake is on all three of your credit reports then you have to repeat this process–times three.

The form sent by the credit bureaus to banks and collection agencies is called an “ACDV”, or automated consumer dispute verification form. This form is normally sent electronically via a system called e-OSCAR.

2. The Not So Common Method – Direct to Furnisher
It’s not a huge secret but consumers are also allowed to file disputes directly with the party that furnished the allegedly incorrect information to the credit bureaus.

So, instead of trying to reach someone with the credit reporting agencies all you have to do is call your bank or the collection agency and let them know you are disputing the credit reporting of some item and you want it corrected.

When you file your dispute direct-to-furnisher, they are also obligated to communicate to the credit bureaus, all of them, that you are challenging the item and the alleged mistake is properly noted as being “in dispute.”

The furnisher also has the same obligation to perform an investigation. If they determine that the item is in fact incorrect, a correction must be sent to all three of the credit reporting agencies.

This process is called “carbon copy.”

The form sent by the banks and collection agencies to correct their credit reporting is called a “UDF”, or universal data form. This form is also normally sent electronically via the e-OSCAR system. More at 3 Ways to Dispute Credit Report Errors

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What is a Credit Bureau

“What is a Credit Bureau? Most of us are still wondering what it does and why it’s important. Let this article help. Read more now!”

Credit Bureau Definition

Credit Bureau

A credit bureau is an organization that tracks the credit histories and related information of individuals. Whenever someone applies for credit, housing, employment, or anything else that their credit history could have an impact on, their potential creditor, landlord, or employer can check the information on file. If the bureau shows less-than-satisfactory information in its report on the person, it may affect the person’s chances of receiving the credit, lease, or job. A poor credit report can also result in higher interest rates on a loan or credit card.

There are three major US credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Although the three companies share information, each maintains its own report and credit score on each individual. When someone applies for a line of credit, housing, or employment, the creditor or employer may look at the report and score from all three. For this reason, if an individual is monitoring his or her credit report for fraud or false information, it is a good idea to request a copy of the report from each agency.

A credit bureau gets the information for their reports from the individuals’ creditors. For example, if someone has a line of credit with his bank, that bank will report information regularly to the credit agency — good or bad. If the individual is always on time with payments, that fact will show on the credit report; however, if the individual has been more than 30 days late on one or more payments, the report is sure to reveal that, as well.

A variety of information gets reported to each agency. They all have personal information for each person who has gotten credit or opened a bank account on file, including their name, date of birth, Social Security number, current and previous addresses, and employment history. All of this information is collected by tracking people via creditor reports and Social Security numbers.

Account information is listed on the report, including the business handling the account, the date the account was opened, the credit line limit, the current balance, and the payment history. Even if an individual closes an account or the account becomes inactive, the report will still show this information for seven to 11 years. The accounts that each bureau includes on a credit report can be anything that is credit related, such as checking and savings accounts, credit cards, loans, and leases.

Each agency also reports any inquiries made into a person’s credit report. The report will show the type of inquiry and who made it. If too many inquiries are made within a certain period of time, the person’s credit rating can be negatively affected.

A credit bureau also includes public records on an individual’s credit report, if they are deemed related to a person’s credit worthiness. For example, if a person has declared bankruptcy, he or she will not be considered reliable, and companies may be hesitant to give him or her a line of credit. Bankruptcies are included on credit reports as a result. Even unpaid child support is considered to pertain to an individual’s dependability. This sort of information typically remains on a credit report for seven years. More at What is a Credit Bureau?

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