• Sometimes incorrect information shows up in a credit report, where it can cause you to pay more for credit or negatively affect your ability to get insurance, a job or a place to live. It can be a sign that someone has used your name, address and Social Security number to open a credit account in your name--and when they don't pay the bill, your credit score gets dinged. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to dispute incorrect information on your credit report.

    Filing a Dispute

    If you find inaccurate information on your credit report, the first step is to notify the reporting company, in writing, that you dispute the information. Write a letter that includes your name and address, and clearly identify each disputed item, stating the facts and requesting that the information be removed. Provide photocopies of any documents that support your position. Send the letter via certified mail, "return receipt requested," making sure to keep a copy for your records. The reporting company must investigate your dispute unless they consider your claims to be frivolous. They will forward your data to the company that reported the information to them in the first place, and the information provider is required to review their information, investigate their records and report their findings to the credit reporting company. If they agree that the information they earlier sent was inaccurate, they must notify all three credit reporting companies of that fact.

    Change or No Change?

    If your dispute results in a change to your credit report, the reporting company will send you a copy of the revised report. If you ask, a new copy will also be sent to anyone who reviewed your credit report in the previous 6 months and to anyone who reviewed it for employment purposes in the previous 2 years. If your dispute does not result in a change to your credit report, you can ask that a statement be included that you dispute the item. You might be charged a fee for this.

    Be Wise About Scam Artists

    Think twice before trusting a company that advertises it will "repair your credit score" or makes advance-fee loans. Many are scams. Also, "debt relief" is sometimes "filing bankruptcy." Before trusting a company to help you with such services, contact the Better Business Bureau in their location or your local consumer protection agency.


    FTC: How to Dispute Credit Report Errors

    FTC: Building a Better Credit Report

    More Information:

    Free Credit Report Order Site

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