Pulling a copy of your credit reporting in 2016 in an effort to get your finances in order can be downright scary. After a thorough review of your report, discovering that it is not perfect but riddled with errors and inaccuracies means it is time to lean on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) and assert your rights to correct your report. Under the FCRA, you are entitled to dispute any and all inaccuracies with the credit reporting agencies and request an investigation of the information. Any agency receiving a dispute must respond within thirty days. Writing a good dispute letter to the credit reporting agencies does not have to be impossible when you follow these simple guidelines.
First, order a copy of your credit report from all three of the major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Even if you already have a copy from one of the three agencies, they don’t all report the same information so not all of the inaccuracies will be the same. After receiving copies of all of your reports, make a list of the errors you wish to dispute. Once you have determined the errors, get ready to write a letter of dispute. If you review the credit reporting agencies websites, you will find that they encourage online disputes. While launching an online investigation is certainly faster if you are pressed for time, you are limited to a “check this box” investigation and cannot personalize your dispute. Writing a personalized letter is always a preferred method.
A well drafted letter is always clear and concise. Make sure to include your name, address, personal information and a copy of the inaccurate report with your dispute. Also, include your return address so the bureaus know where to send the investigation results. Be specific in telling the credit reporting agencies exactly what is wrong with your report, don’t leave the credit reporting agencies to guess. List the name of the account that you are disputing, what exactly is inaccurate about the account, the date of the inaccuracy, and tell the credit reporting agency how you want the account to be reported. Back up your dispute with any documents that support your position. The more supporting information you provide the stronger your case.
After drafting your dispute, send the letter(s) to the credit reporting agencies in some way that you can track and assure the letter was received. The credit reporting agencies receive tons of mail daily, leaving yours to be easily lost. As stated above, under the FCRA, the bureaus have 30 days to investigate a dispute and provide you with the results. You do have the right to supplement your dispute with more information. If, within that 30 day period, you provide additional information to the credit bureaus, they must review it, but are given an additional 15 days to complete the investigation.
Based on the results of your investigation, you can begin to assert your rights under the FCRA. If the credit reporting agencies updated your information and you are happy with the results, you can consider your efforts a job well done. On the other hand, if the information you were complaining about was verified and/or remains on your credit file, consider contacting an attorney to file a lawsuit under the FCRA. The statute allows a successful consumer to recover statutory damages and attorneys’ fees, so there may be no out of pocket expense to the consumer.
If you believe your rights have been violated under the FCRA and you would like the advice or assistance of counsel, contact SmithMarco P.C. for a completely free case review.