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Despite companies' promises to "clean up" or "fix" your credit record, any negative information in your record, which has been proven to be accurate, cannot be erased from your credit report. According to the Federal Trade Commission, you cannot legally dispute an accurate claim on your credit report. Such information stays in your credit file for seven years, or ten years in the case of bankruptcy. According to the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (complete as of January 7, 2002), you have the right to obtain a copy of your credit report and to challenge its accuracy.

Consumers should know that they are entitled to challenge inaccurate information in their credit report for free, even though credit repair companies charge fees as high as hundreds of dollars for this service.

If the credit reporting agency cannot verify the information within a reasonable time period, the information must be removed from your credit report, however if it is later verified to be accurate, it may re-appear on your credit report. This in many cases is called a "soft delete." Consumers also should be aware that the Fair Credit Reporting Act states a credit bureau is required to inform you before the re-reporting of a previously deleted listing.

A consumer can request a copy of their current credit report for free, if on a government assistance program (welfare); un-employed and looking for employment; believe they are a victim of credit fraud; or have been denied credit, insurance or a job, which has reviewed your credit report for employment, in the last 60 days. A consumer can request a copy of their current credit report from one of the three national consumer-reporting agencies. They are:
Equifax Credit Information Services 1-800-685-1111
Experian Information Solutions 1-800-682-7654
TransUnion 1-800-916-8800

For credit counseling assistance, you may wish to contact a non-profit organization such as the National Foundation for Consumer Credit, located at 8701 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20919, or 1-800-388-2227.


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