Credit Report Errors
How to Dispute Credit Report Errors
Your credit report contains information about where you live, how you pay your bills, whether you've been sued, have a judgment, been in court, were arrested, or have filed for bankruptcy. Consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation's consumer reporting companies. Credit reporting agencies and the creditors which report to them may be sued for errors which they fail to correct.
Review Your Credit Report Regularly
At Bleichman and Klein, we suggest that you review your credit report periodically. Why?
- Because the information it contains affects whether you can get a loan—and how much you will have to pay to borrow money.
- To make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.
- To help guard against identity theft. That's when someone uses your personal information—like your name, your Social Security number, or your credit card number—to commit fraud. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job.
Getting Your Credit Report
An amendment to the FCRA requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
How to Order Your Free Report
The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have set up one website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address through which you can order your free annual report. To order do one of the following:
- Visit www.annualcreditreport.com
- Call 877-322-8228
- Complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies at the same time, or you can order from only one or two. The law allows you to order one free copy from each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies every 12 months.
You need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. If you have moved in the last two years, you may have to provide your previous address. To maintain the security of your file, each nationwide consumer reporting company may ask you for some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Each company may ask you for different information because the information each has in your file may come from different sources.
Other Situations Where You Might be Eligible for a Free Report
Under federal law, you're also entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, based on information in your report. You must ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company.
You're also entitled to one free report a year if:
- You are unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days
- You are on welfare
- Your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.
Buying Your Report
If you have already used your free annual credit report or are otherwise ineligible, then a consumer reporting company may charge you up to $9.50 for another copy of your report within a 12-month period.
To buy a copy of your report, contact:
- Equifax at 800-685-1111 or www.equifax.com
- Experian at 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742) or www.experian.com
- TransUnion at 800-916-8800 or www.transunion.com
Under state law, consumers in Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont already have free access to their credit reports.
Dispute Inaccurate Information
Bleichman Klein will prepare the letters to the creditors and credit reporting agencies with copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position.
Consumer reporting companies must investigate the items in question—usually within 30 days—unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all the relevant data you provide about the inaccuracy to the organization that provided the information. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the consumer reporting company, it must investigate, review the relevant information, and report the results back to the consumer reporting company. If the information provider finds the disputed information is inaccurate, it must notify all three nationwide consumer reporting companies so they can correct the information in your file.
When the investigation is complete, the consumer reporting company must give you the results in writing and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. This free report does not count as your annual free report. If an item is changed or deleted, the consumer reporting company cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that it is accurate and complete. The consumer reporting company also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider.
If you ask, the consumer reporting company must send notices of any corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. You can have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.
If an investigation doesn't resolve your dispute with the consumer reporting company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You also can ask the consumer reporting company to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past. You can expect to pay a fee for this service.