Identity Theft

RESTORING CREDIT

Clearing up your credit can be an arduous and lengthy task. Persistence and attention to detail are critical. Federal laws are in place for correcting credit report and billing errors. These laws help prevent debt collectors from contacting you regarding debt that you don’t actually owe. The information below will help you understand your rights, restore your credit and ultimately clear your name.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandates the procedures for correcting credit reporting mistakes. The FCRA requires that your credit report is used only for legitimate business practices. Under the FCRA, both the credit bureau and the organization that provided the information to the credit bureau (such as a bank or credit card company) are responsible for correcting misinformation in your credit report.

Follow these procedures to repair your credit:

  • Call the credit bureau and tell them about the inaccurate credit information – then follow up in writing.
  • Include copies of documents that support your position and a letter that clearly identifies each item you’re disputing, supported with facts, an explanation of the dispute – and MAKE SURE you also request the deletion or correction!
  • Enclose a copy of your report, noting the items in question.
  • Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the credit bureau received and when.
  • Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.

The credit bureau's investigation must be completed within 30 days (45 days if you provide additional documents). If they consider your dispute, they must tell you so within five business days. If the information provider finds the disputed information to be inaccurate, it must notify any nationwide credit bureau to which it reports, so that the credit bureau can correct this information in your file. If an item is changed or removed on your credit report, the credit bureau cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies its accuracy and completeness, and the credit bureau gives you a written notice that includes the name, address and phone number of the information provider.

If you ask, the credit bureau must send notices of corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. Job applicants can have a corrected copy of their report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes. If an investigation does not resolve your dispute, ask the credit bureau to include a 100-word statement of the dispute in your file and in future reports.

For more detailed information, see “How to Dispute Credit Report Errors and Fair Credit Reporting” from the FTC at www.creditreport.com/creditmonitoring/.