While most of our clients need bankruptcy because they’re struggling with uncontrollable debt, every once in a while we talk to people who simply have problems with their credit reports. Sometimes it’s a result of identity theft, and others it’s simply an error in reporting.
It’s surprising how often we hear the question, “How do I fix an problem on my credit report?” – and while we specialize in helping clients with their bankruptcy cases, we’ve learned a few things about dealing with incorrect credit reports over the years.
If you want to dispute an error on your credit report, these tips might help:
- The first thing you want to do is send in a written request for an investigation to the credit reporting agency. If you send it with “return receipt requested,” you’ll even know when they receive your letter. Give the agency a call to follow up about a week later.
- You don’t have to use the dispute form that came with your credit report. It’s perfectly OK to add additional details and submit supporting documents. Try to avoid using an online reporting form, where you won’t have a clear record of submission.
- Be as specific as possible. Include your name, your address (and address history for the last 4 or 5 years), which item is being disputed, and why you’re disputing it. Include any available documentation to support your claim that the debt is an error.
- Keep detailed, dated records of all communication with the credit reporting agency, including notes of any phone conversations
- Make sure your creditor knows about your dispute as well – and send them a copy of your dispute. That way, the creditor won’t be able to claim that it didn’t know about the dispute.
- Make sure you send your dispute to all three of the credit reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Many times, if an error shows in one report, it can show up in another agency’s report as well.
- If you agree to pay a debt, ask the creditor to remove the negative information it submitted to the credit reporting agency. Even if they refuse, there’s no reason not to ask.
- Order a new full credit report, and check to see if the errors are still listed. Each month, the reporting agency updates the information in your report, so if the errors have been fixed, they should be gone from the new report. Always look for any incorrect information in your credit report – especially for an incorrect address or even a misspelling of your name. Either could be a sign that someone else’s activities are listed on your report.
If your credit report looks grim because you’ve got several late payments – or even a failure to pay notice – and you’re struggling with catching up with your bills, bankruptcy might be a good option for you. Bankruptcy will basically give you a clean slate and allow you to start to rebuild your credit score. Call us today at 214-760-7777 for a free consultation, and we’ll walk you through all of your options.