If you’re looking to repair your credit report the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s (FCRA) Section 611 allows for consumers to challenge questionable items on their credit reports. May it be late payments charge-offs, collections, tax liens, bankruptcies, judgments, foreclosures, or any personal identification information. Virtually any questionable negative information the credit bureaus have for you can be disputed and their deletion may result in a credit score increase.

The ways to dispute with the credit bureaus: Phone, Mail, Online or Fax

Of the available ways to dispute, phone and online disputes are the most common. Experian, Equifax, and Transunion allow for you to pull a credit report directly from their websites, or from annualcreditreport.com. Those reports will provide you with a link to dispute online and also provide a phone number shall you choose to call the bureau’s customer service department instead. Phone and online disputes, although maybe the easiest ways to dispute, yet they are the least effective and reduce your chances of repairing your credit.

Why you should never dispute over the phone or online:

Any serious credit repair expert will tell you never to dispute over the phone or online. Why?  Consumers are at a disadvantage every time they dispute with the bureaus online or by phone. Firstly, the credit bureaus make consumers agree to innocuous sounding waivers, which in fact make clients give up their rights to re-investigation. Second, without a proper paper trail, the credit bureaus do not have to fear the threat of lawsuits. So the credit bureaus can take online and phone disputes less seriously. This means less thoroughly investigated disputes that lead to items not being deleted from the credit report. So mailed or fax dispute letters will serve you much better.

Common mistakes to avoid in dispute letters:

  • Do not threaten legal action of any kind, unless you have reason to do so.
  • Do not dispute any positive items on your credit report, once removed they cannot be re-inserted.
  • Do not dispute any inquiries linked to accounts you’ve legitimately opened, your inquiry dispute will be forwarded to the creditor, who may close the account fearing fraud.
  • Do not forget to put in the entire account numbers if the same creditor is reporting multiple accounts. You do not want the wrong account disputed and deleted.Lastly, make sure not to dispute any inquiries on your credit report that resulted in an account you legitimately opened. Since once you dispute that inquiry, the credit bureaus will reach out to the creditor and notify them of your dispute.The creditor would then suspect the account was fraudulently opened and end up closing the account

Never dispute large unpaid accounts that are within the statute of limitations:

I absolutely cannot stress this enough, when trying to repair your credit,  do not dispute any legitimate debts that fell behind recently, which you cannot afford to pay off. Creditors can legally sue consumers within the statute of limitations they are allowed by the state the debtor resides in. So, do check the statute of limitation for debts in your states before disputing any large unpaid accounts. Disputing accounts which lie within the statute of limitations may incite the creditor to take legal action against you. This, however, does not pertain to items that are resulting from identity theft.

For victims of identity theft:

If you are a victim of identity theft and are certain someone has been fraudulently incurring inquires in your name, then you will need to fill out a sworn Identity Theft Affidavit at the Federal Trade Commission website and include it with your credit bureau disputes.

Items you can dispute with this credit bureau dispute letter: 

Below is a sample dispute letter, you can modify it to fit your own words and format to dispute any personal and account information on the credit report.

You can dispute the following items: 

Credit account related Disputes:  Charge-offs, late payments, missed payments, collections, repossessions, student loans, installment loans, auto loans, mortgage foreclosures. Virtually any account that is reporting on your credit file.

Public records: This includes, IRS tax liens, state tax liens, judgments, and bankruptcies.

Personal information: You can dispute to get removed or have the bureaus update all your personal information including your name, current address and previous addresses, your phone number, your employment information, your date of birth and SSN#.


Sample credit bureau dispute letter:

Full Name

Mailing Address:

Date of Birth

{If Sending to Experian: P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013}

{If Sending to Equifax: P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256}

{If Sending to Transunion: Consumer Disputes, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016}

{Date}

RE: Investigation Request to Delete Credit Inquires

To whom it may concern,

In accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act Section 611 (15 U.S.C. § 1681I), I am practicing my right to challenge questionable information that I have found on my personal credit report. I do not recognize the information listed below and request that you investigate the source of these accounts and ascertain that the creditor had a permissible purpose, and is able to verify my complete file information including full name, address, date of birth and SSN#.

INCORRECT ACCOUNT INFORMATION
The accounts below are reporting incorrectly please investigate these:

  1. {Creditor Name} {ac#}          {Reason for Dispute}
  2. {Creditor Name} {ac#}          {Reason for Dispute}
  3. {Creditor Name} {ac#}         {Reason for Dispute}

INCORRECT CREDIT INQUIRIES
I am disputing the following inquiries which I did not authorize:

  1. {Creditor Name} {inquiry date}
  2. {Creditor Name} {inquiry date}

REMOVE INCORRECT PERSONAL INFORMATION
I am disputing the following personal information that is showing for me which is incorrect:

  1. Incorrect SSN {xxx-xx-xx xx }
  2. Incorrect Address { insert address}
  3. Incorrect Name Variations { Insert name}

UPDATE PERSONAL INFORMATION
Also please update the following information which I saw your credit bureau to be missing or incomplete:

  1. Personal current address {insert correct address}
  2. My proper full { insert your correct full name, if the bureau has listed it incorrectly}
  3. My date of birth { insert date of birth, if bureau has it listed incorrectly}
  4. My current employment info { insert employer name, address and your position, if the bureau is missing this info}

I am allowing you 30 days to complete this investigation after which I authorize you to mail me my updated credit reports along with the investigation results

Truly,

{Name}

{Signature}


Instructions on how to use the credit bureau dispute letter:

STEP 1: Adjust the format of the letter as you please and make some minor modifications to reflect your own voice.

STEP 2: Fill in your personal identification information

STEP 3: Following this statement you can list the erroneous personal identification information you are disputing along with a list of the questionable accounts and inquiries.
For each account, list the creditor name and the account #, along with the reason for your dispute.

STEP 4: Valid reasons for disputes could be: The Account does not belong to me. The account payment history is incorrect. The account is too old to be on the credit report.  The account was paid prior to collection. Incorrect amount. Incorrect last payment date. Incorrect Status. The account belongs to someone else with a similar name. Virtually any questionable aspect of an account can be deleted

STEP 5: What to enclose with the Credit Bureau Dispute Letter
     Photo ID: This could be any state or government issued identification
     Proof of Residency: This could be a recent utility bill, or bank statement, mortgage statement or a copy of your home rental agreement. It should show your name and current mailing address.
     Proof of SSN#: This could be any state or government document showing your SSN#. Or a page from your tax return, W-2, paystub or 1099 etc.
Any Supporting Documentation: This could include anything that could support your dispute claim, like a letter of deletion from the creditor.

STEP 6: How to Mail: These letters should be mailed out via certified mail and always save the green receipt from your records.

STEP 7:  Wait for 30 Days for the Dispute Completion: Within 30 days after receipt of the letters by the credit bureaus, you should receive the investigation results from them. The results will show what accounts were disputed and whether they were deleted, updated with new information or remain unchanged.

 

What to do if the bureau did not investigate or correct the report:

Sometimes the bureaus may end up not sending you the investigation results, as sometimes they may deem your identification information incomplete. Regardless, they are required to investigate the items nonetheless. So, pull your credit report after about 35 days from the time you mailed out the dispute letters. Then check on each bureau if there’s been any deletions or any accounts showing a comment by them that they’re in dispute. These two indicators should let you know if the bureaus actually investigated your claim or not. If you find no indication that they bureaus investigated, refer back to your certified mail tracking information and confirm the bureaus received the letters. If they did, then you can move to lodge complaints against the bureaus, as discussed below:

 

File regulatory complaints against the bureaus and creditors

In the event that the bureaus do not investigate or correct your credit report, then you can lodge complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at www.consumerfinance.gov. You can also lodge complaints against creditors and collection companies here.  The CFPB forwards these complaints to the party you lodge a complaint, who must respond back to the CFPB within 30 days with a resolution.  The CFPB also collects data on the number of complaints filed against each institution and may take regulatory action against them if they notice a pattern of violations.

Method of verification letter:

In the event the credit bureaus do allegedly verify incorrect information on your credit report and refuse to correct it, you may exercise your right under the FCRA Section 611 (6),(7)  to request a method of verification. Here you are asking the creditors to provide you with details pertaining to how and with whom they verified the information you disputed.

 

Sample method of verification letter:

All you’ll need to do is just adjust the first dispute letter you sent them and put in the following text:

“I sent your company my dispute on {Date}, which you received and investigated on. I have reason to believe that you conducted a reasonable investigation. therefore, I am invoking the Fair Credit Reporting Act Section 611 to ask that you provide me with the following information:

  1. The date you contacted the creditor
  2. The contact information for the creditor
  3. The name of the person who verified the item to you
  4. The method of communication you used to verify this information
  5. Did the creditor provide you with my SSN, address, and Date of Birth?

 

When to hire a professional credit repair service:

In spite of your best efforts if the bureaus don’t correct your report or if you’re seeking quicker and more effective results, then reach out to me personally at Imax Credit Repair, I’ve dealt with the credit bureaus for over a decade and can modestly say we achieved the highest deletion rates in the industry with the credit bureaus.

Your comment and questions are welcome below.

Lastly, we have $0 upfront fees, charge only after results, and have a 5 Star Yelp Review Rating with fees starting at $849.

Contact me now for free consultation and estimate of fees.

I look forward to being of help!

 

 

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Ali is a credit repair coach, writer, public speaker and consumer advocate for fair credit reporting practices. He's a practicing LDA in California Superior Court and currently serves as the CEO of Imax Credit Repair Firm.