Find out how to get errors off your credit report
Image source - Flickr User Morgan
One of the things we advise here at the Law Offices of John T Orcutt is to get to work improving your credit soon after you receive your discharge for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy and while you're in Chapter 13. If you're trying to clean up your credit without resorting to bankruptcy or even if you have filed bankruptcy, there will be inaccuracies on your credit report. Roughly 25% of credit reports have errors and filing bankruptcy won't fix these. Here are five tips to help you clean up errors fast:
#1 Send Via Certified Mail
Although the big three credit reporting agencies all have online portals to allow you to file disputes, this may not be the best way to proceed. Instead, use the good old-fashioned US Postal Service. Type up your letter, sign it and take it to the post office to mail out. Send it via certified mail, return receipt requested. This will ensure that you have concrete proof of when your letter was both sent and received. This can become important if your request for correction is ignored.
#2 Include Backup Information
It's one thing to write and say that there's an error, but it's quite another thing if you can prove it. If you've paid off a bill, send in a copy of the canceled check or the settlement confirmation letter from the creditor. Copies of statements, screen prints from your online bank account for auto debits (if you didn't pay by check) or from your online portal with the creditor in question can also help. Anything that will direct the investigation and help prove your case should be included, but never send originals of documents or statements – only send copies.
#3 Be Polite and Ask for Assistance
You don't want to make an emotional appeal, either positive or negative, but you do want to be polite and give the investigator a reason to help. “I'm writing for your assistance to correct this error on my credit report. I am trying to refinance my home and this is causing problems. Thank you in advance for your assistance.” Language like this will show that you are sincere, considerate and worthy of help. While the investigator should help in any case, this many encourage them to go the extra mile.
#4 Be Sure to Clearly State Who You Are
You may be so caught up in explaining the mistake that you may fail to explain who you are. Start out with your full legal name, social security number and address. Also include the account number associated with the error. If it's a joint account, include info on the joint debtor. This allows the person investigating to more quickly locate your account. Be absolutely certain your return address is included. If you leave this out and your address has changed, the response may not reach you.
#5 Be Sure to Follow Up
Ask that the item either be corrected or removed from your credit report. You want to write to both the creditor that made the error and the credit agency(s) that display the error. When writing to the credit agency, print that page of your credit report and circle the item. You should expect an item to be corrected within 30 to 90 days. Request a response within 60 days. After 60 days, contact each creditor agency via phone for follow up.
If you get no reply, you may need to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but you should not have to push it this far. You may get a follow up request for more information – be sure to reply to this immediately and via certified mail, with documentation, etc. to get the best results.
If you're deep in debt and looking for a meaningful solution, contact the law offices of John T Orcutt for an immediate consultation on how a North Carolina bankruptcy can benefit you.