We all understand the importance of credit scores. A bad credit score might lead to rejection of your credit applications (for mortgages/credit cards/personal loans or any other kind of loan). Even if you are able to get a loan, the terms of a loan given against a bad credit score might be very harsh on you. However, it is not uncommon to find that your credit report is wrong or contains items that don’t belong to you. To get your credit report corrected, you must write a credit repair letter.
While writing credit repair letters (or credit repair dispute letters) you must ensure that you follow these guidelines:
1. Credit reporting companies are the ones to contact: Since credit reporting companies are the prime source of information for the lenders to judge your credit worthiness, it is important to send your credit repair dispute letters to these credit reporting companies/bureaus. However, this doesn’t mean that you should not send the dispute information to the erring creditors in question. In fact, it is a good practice to send all the dispute information and documents to the creditors as well… it might help speed up the process and the creditors cannot claim that they didn’t receive complete information on the dispute from credit bureaus.
2. Identify the incorrect items in your credit report: You must clearly mark the items that you feel are incorrect in your credit report. You might want to encircle such items in your credit report and assign some sort of reference number to each such item… for easy reference in your credit repair dispute letter. You must then include a copy of your credit report (with the items marked) together with your credit repair letter.
3. Supporting documentation: For each incorrect item, you must mention why it is incorrect and furnish supporting proofs (only copies, NO Originals) towards this. You must also clearly mention what you think should be the correction e.g. correcting amounts/dates or deletion of the item altogether.
Note: You will find sample credit repair letters all over the Internet. Whatever sample credit repair letter you use, you must cover the points mentioned here in order to ensure that your letter is effective.
4. Ensure correct address: This is an error that can cost you a lot. Do not use the address of credit reporting bureau/creditor that you had noted long time back somewhere… get the latest address by calling them up. Also check that the address you get is the one to which the complaints/credit repair letters should be addressed. At the same time, it is also important to ensure that you specify your own address correctly especially if you have recently moved to a new address.
5. Keep a record of all communications: For credit repair dispute letters, it means that you should send them with “return receipt requested” so that you have a record of what was received by the credit reporting company. Similarly, if you have had discussions with them over phone/email etc. then keep a record of such discussions too i.e. date/time, person talked to and a short note of the discussion/conclusion.
6. Send it to all 3 credit bureaus: It would be a good idea to send the dispute letters to all the 3 credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) at the same time. This will help you ensure that corrections are reported to and made in all your credit reports.
Note: It is expected that if a disputed item is corrected, the information provider must send the correction to all three credit bureaus. Also, it is expected that the credit bureaus must send the corrected credit report to everyone with whom they have shared your credit report in past six months (or, in case the reports were shared with your prospective employers, in past 2 years).
However, in case you don’t get a resolution, hire a good lawyer… and your communication records/proofs will come in handy to get you a resolution.