Your credit score can play a significant role in the quality of your life. Banking institutions, lenders, employers, and even some dating websites may form opinions about you, solely based upon information gleaned from your credit report, and even one negative item can bring your score way down. Because of this, it is imperative that your reports are completely accurate and up-to-date.
Fortunately, disputing errors is simpler than you may think. By following this simple five-step guide, you can get false or outdated information removed from your credit report with confidence and ease.
Step 1: Review your reports
It is important for consumers to be aware that they have the right to dispute items on their credit reports. A startling number of individuals mistakenly believe that they must simply accept the information that is being reported about them – even if it is in error. The truth is that the Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to a free copy of your reports from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax each year. This not only enables you to get an idea of where you stand, but also provides you with the opportunity to review your report for any inaccuracies. When evaluating your report, be on the lookout for dated items, items that have inaccurately been attributed to your name, items that were wrongfully reported as late, and the signs of identity theft.
Step 2: Build your case
When disputing questionable items on your credit report, the more evidence that you have to support your case, the better. If, for example, TransUnion is incorrectly reporting that you made a late payment to “Lender X”, you can’t expect the bureau to simply take your word for it. All claims are thoroughly investigated, so it’s wise to include any and all documentation that can prove that your payment was processed in a timely manner. It’s also a good idea to contact the lender and request that they, too, take measures to rectify the error with the credit bureau.
Step 3: Go online
All three major reporting bureaus will accept disputes via mail or telephone, but the fastest way to process your request is online. You’ll be prompted to indicate the nature of your claim, and to provide a detailed statement with regards to the item(s) in question. To avoid any delays in response, be sure to carefully follow all steps, and include all supporting documents.
Step 4: Take it one step at a time
If you’ve got multiple items to dispute, it’s in your best interest to submit only one claim at a time. Credit bureaus tend to be somewhat skeptical of claims that appear to be frivolous, and firing off a handful of disputes can give that initial impression. Sticking with just one disputed claim at a time will save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run.
Step 5: Address negative items
What about negative items that were correctly reported to the credit bureaus? Although you may think that you will be forced to live with your mistakes for years, it never hurts to try to have late payments and charge offs removed from your report. Contact your creditor and ask to speak to a manager with decision-making authority. Speaking calmly and politely, state your case, requesting that the creditor consider having the items removed from your report in exchange for an immediate payment in full. If the creditor is willing to do so, be sure to obtain a written statement agreeing to your request before making your payment.
When you follow these guidelines, you can take full ownership of your credit reports and thrive.
The author of this article is Nicole Johnson, a credit editor and expert at BestCreditScoreCompanys.com.