Credit Repair-In General
People who cannot obtain credit due to bankruptcy or past problems involving bills may be tempted to use a "credit repair" company or a "credit clinic." Advertisements promising to "make bad credit extinct" entice thousands each year, but you may want to think twice before using their services.
Some credit repair companies guarantee to clean up your credit history, get you out of debt, or obtain a credit card for you; but no matter what these firms guarantee, neither you nor any credit repair agency can remove accurate information. Accurate information showing negative marks on your credit record will remain for 7 years, and in the case of bankruptcy, 10 years. Often what these companies will do is to obtain a copy of your credit record, and challenge everything in your report. While the information is being verified, the negative information is TEMPORARILY removed.
Once the information is found to be true, it goes back on the credit report for the remainder of the years (7 or 10). Assistance with debt management is available from various sources, but it is important to choose carefully. Consumer Credit Counseling Services can help those having trouble paying their debts by working out manageable repayment plans with creditors. If you are having trouble getting credit, you can check your credit report yourself.
The law requires any creditors who have turned you down for credit to provide the name and address of the credit reporting agency from which they got their information. You can also review, and correct, any errors in your credit report. If you have been turned down for credit in the last 30 days, the credit bureau which provided your credit information will provide you a copy of your credit report, at no charge; otherwise they have agreed to charge no more than $8.
All consumers are also eligible to obtain one statutory free annual credit file disclosure from each of the national credit reporting companies every twelve months. You may request your disclosures at www.AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 877 FACTACT. If you prefer to write, a request form is available at www.annualcreditreport.com
If you find a mistake in a report from one bureau, you should make sure it does not exist in the files of the other bureaus. You can dispute inaccurate information on your credit report by submitting a request in writing to the credit bureau directly. Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each item in your report you dispute, state the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and request that it be removed or corrected. You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled. Send your letter by certified mail with return receipt requested, so you can document what the credit bureau received. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.Consumer reporting companies must investigate the items in question - usually within 30 days - unless they consider your dispute frivolous. When the investigation is complete, the credit bureau must give you the results in writing and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change.
The addresses and phone numbers to the 3 national credit bureaus are as follows:
TransUnionConsumer SolutionsP.O. Box 2000Chester, PA 19022-2000(800) 916-8800
Experian Box 9492 Allen, TX 75013-0949(888) 397-3742
Equifax Box 740241Atlanta, GA 30374-0241(888)685-1111
(Source: Federal Trade Commission)Updated 06/12/07 (nr)