Taking Action When You Find Mistakes

If you find mistakes in your credit report, immediately complete the “request for reinvestigation” form that the credit bureau sent you or send a letter listing each incorrect item and explain exactly what is wrong.

Once the credit bureau receives your request, it must complete an investigation of your disputed items within 30 days and provide you written notice of the results of the investigation within five days of its completion, including a copy of your credit report if it has changed based upon the dispute. If you don’t hear back within this time, send a follow-up letter. If you let them know that you’re trying to obtain a mortgage or car loan, they can do a rush investigation.

If you are right or if the creditor who provided the information can no longer verify it, the credit bureau must remove the information from your report. Often credit bureaus will remove an item on request without an investigation if rechecking the item is more bother than it’s worth.

Once you’ve found a mistake on one credit bureau’s report, you’ll need to request the other two and repeat the process to make sure they’re all in sync.

If you don’t get anywhere with the credit bureau, directly contact the creditor and ask that the information be removed. Write to the customer service department, vice president of marketing and president or CEO. If the information was reported by a collection agency, send the agency a copy of your letter, too. Creditors are forbidden by law to report information that they know is incorrect.

If you feel a credit bureau is wrongfully including information in your report or you want to explain a particular entry, you have the right to put a 100-word statement in your report. Be clear and concise; use the fewest words possible. The credit bureau must give a copy of your statement—or a summary—to anyone who requests your report. Lenders who get the full report are likely to take it into account. After all, they’re in the business of trying to make as many loans as possible.

Your thoughts on this subject? Your comments appreciated!

Content © Rich Brott, 2011

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