The information in your credit report can be vital to your overall success in life. Your credit can help you obtain a place to live, a vehicle and even employment. So you want to be sure your credit report is accurate.
Obtaining information about your credit report is easy. Changing the information in your credit report can be a little more complicated. There are many companies that offer credit repair services, but before you consider hiring one of them, it’s worth exploring what you can do yourself. There are a variety of free, legal options available that can help you repair your credit.
Your Credit Rights
In many situations, you’re entitled to a free credit report. For example, if a company takes an “adverse action” against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance or employment, you’re entitled to a free report. You have 60 days from the day of notice to take action. Additionally, you’re entitled to a free report each year under the following conditions: if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within the next 60 days, if you’re on welfare, or if your credit report is inaccurate because of identity theft or another type of fraud.
You are also entitled to one free credit report every year from each of the three credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can order three reports all at once or stagger your report requests throughout the year. Reports may be ordered via phone or the companies’ websites.
How to File a Dispute
It’s free to file a dispute with a credit reporting agency. If your credit report contains information you believe to be inaccurate, you can contact the credit reporting agency in writing to try to resolve the issue. Your correspondence should include your full name and address, a description of the problem, any documents you have that support your positions (copies only, so keep the originals for yourself), and your request that the item in question be removed or corrected.
Send your request by certified mail so you have a record that the credit reporting company received it. From there, the company has 30 days to investigate your claim unless it’s found to be frivolous. The credit reporting company must notify the information provider in question, who must then review the information and respond to the company. If the item in question is found to be inaccurate, a correction to your credit file must be made.
Black Marks in Your Report
Unfortunately, you have few options regarding accurate negative information in your credit report. Most negative information remains in your report for seven years. A bankruptcy filing will remain in your report for 10 years.
Many people with negative items on their credit reports turn to credit repair organizations. But be careful. In the distant past, many credit repair organizations offered services they couldn’t deliver. Today, the Credit Repair Organization Act has heavy regulations in place for credit repair agencies, all designed to protect the consumer.
Credit Help is Available
Credit repair organizations must explain your legal rights in a written contract, along with the total costs you’ll pay. Additionally, they’re not allowed to charge you anything until they’ve performed their services. If you hire a credit repair organization and run into problems, contact your state attorney general or the Federal Trade Commission.
Credit counseling organizations are another way to find help. These nonprofits can help you set up a repayment plan and otherwise help keep track of your finances. Small steps today can lead to great credit down the road. If you’re having trouble with your credit report, it’s best to take action now. Now you know about Credit Repair How to Help Yourself.