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According to a study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), one in five Americans find errors in their credit reports. Although the majority of those who file for dispute see an acceptable change in their scores, many just leave things as is and forget about raising their concerns to creditors.

Fig. 1. Numbers on credit report errors
(Source: Debt.com)

If you understand the significance of your credit score, you wouldn’t want your record tarnished by wrong entries, duplicate items, and other things you don’t deserve. If you’re up to the task to fix your report, here are 4 easy steps to guide you in repairing your credit score:

1. Get your credit report

You’re entitled to get a free credit report once a year from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can get it on AnnualCreditReport.com which is an authorized and legitimate provider of credit reports.

Although you can get reports from each of the major credit bureaus, it’s not recommended to request them all at once. Unless you have a big purchase to make, like a house or a car, it’d be wiser to spread out your requests throughout the year. Request from one of the bureaus once every 4 months so you can regularly monitor your credit reports for the whole year.

The reports from each credit bureau may vary a little because each of them are independent companies and can sometimes report things differently. The difference will be minimal, though, and you’ll still be able to determine where your general credit health stands.

2. Review the report

If you want to repair your credit score, you must understand what’s in your report. You may have noticed a recent drop in your score. You might have assumed it was because of a purchase you made or that it was caused by something else that’s not within your control. However, it might actually be caused by erroneous items on your credit report that you didn’t know to look for because you don’t have the knowledge or experience.

Usually, you’ll find personal information, account details, credit inquiries, collections, and public records on the credit report. These are the areas where you can find mistakes that could have affected your credit rating.

It’s not uncommon to skip checking your personal information on the report, but this is where you’ll usually see mistakes in name spelling and wrong address entries. Errors on the latter can become a serious matter because it can be considered a sign that someone is attempting to use your info for fraudulent activities.

Lenders might misspell your name and submit the wrong information to credit bureaus. This won’t have a big effect on your credit rating unless the name refers to an entirely different person. Nonetheless, this should be corrected to avoid possible issues in the future.

Fig. 2. Top five types of identity theft fraud in 2018
(Source: Insurance Information Institute)

Studies reveal that around 33% of adults in the US have experienced identity theft. It’s at the top of the five most common types of fraudulent activity reported in the country, so make sure you carefully check that all accounts opened in the report are yours.

Next, check the account details section where all information on the accounts you’ve opened and closed can be found. Payments, balances, due dates, and overdue accounts on all loans and credit cards are recorded in this section.

The account details section is the most important part of the credit report you must check. Look for incorrect calculations, balances you’ve paid that weren’t reflected on the report, and accounts you didn’t open. Take note of these anomalies since you’ll be raising them when you file for a dispute.

Search for duplicate entries of your accounts. This can hurt your score because it increases the amount of debt you’ve incurred over the years.

Hard credit inquiries can also affect your score, so review the report to ensure you recognize all the hard inquiries there. Highlight those you didn’t authorize or don’t recognize as these can be disputed. Soft inquiries, on the other hand, have no effect on your credit score and don’t require your authorization to be executed, so you can disregard these items.

Public records and collections cannot be easily removed from your credit report. They’ll usually stay there for years, depending on the situation that caused it. You’ll want the expertise of credit repair professionals like Repair Credit 101 to deal with concerns you have under these sections.

The more errors you find in your report, the more significant the boost in your credit score will be. If there are only a few errors that need correction, you can try going for DIY methods. However, if you’ve spotted several anomalies on your report, it’d be better to hire a credit repair specialist like Repair Credit 101 to save time.

After reviewing your report and seeing the errors in it, you have two ways to proceed: either dispute the report yourself or have a professional credit repair agency handle the job.

If you have the budget to afford the service of an expert, it’s best to leave the worrying to them and avoid stressing yourself. Shop around for a rate that fits your budget, like Repair Credit 101 who offers one of the most competitive rates in the market.

Consider the time and effort you need to spend in making the dispute. Disputing credit reports can be tedious as you have to gather information, contact multiple companies, and file a lot of paperwork. The whole process can take a toll on your patience and the results aren’t guaranteed.

3. Dispute errors

To dispute errors, you have to draft a letter and send it to the credit bureau that issued the report. You can find templates online which you can tweak accordingly. The FTC also has provided a sample that you can use freely.

In the letter, identify the items in the report you want to dispute. Describe your findings and explain why the item should be revised or removed from the report. Include the copy of your report with the disputed items highlighted, along with supporting documents that prove your case. Send the letter through certified mail, so you have proof that the letter has been received by the department.

Wait for the credit bureau to verify the validity of the errors you’ve raised. On average, it will take 30 days before you receive a response. By law, any concern raised that has been proven to be inaccurate or unverified information on your credit report must be removed immediately.

After the credit bureau confirms the removal of the disputed items, it’s time to contact creditors you’ve recently applied for credit with and inform them of your updated reports. You don’t want these companies to keep old credit reports in their files because they will contain the old inaccurate information you just removed. This is especially important if you’ve recently been rejected by one of those creditors.

Similar to how you sent a request letter to the bureau, you can also to write your lender a formal letter regarding your concern. You must also send this through certified mail to ensure receipt.

Lenders are required to respond to your concern within 45 days. If you get lucky, the lender will just eliminate the items in question to avoid the hassle of digging up all relevant documentation.

However, there may be instances where your creditor or the credit bureau will refuse to remove the disputed item. They’ll claim that the disputed entries are correct, and you’ll be left with limited recourse.

In this scenario, you can just ask the credit bureau to include a statement in your next credit report describing what transpired when you filed the dispute. The other option is to lodge a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Board.

The dispute process is time-consuming and will test your patience. To avoid any form of hassle, you can leave everything at the hands of a credit repair expert like Repair Credit 101. We have a team of professionals who are armed with experience and knowledge in identifying disputable records. We know the legal framework and the negotiation strategies to use to turn the tides to your favor.

4. Check the updated copy of your credit report

Once all disputes have been resolved, you can get a copy of the updated report to check if the questionable items have been removed. You can also get an updated credit score from your credit score provider. Your score should have increased if the erroneous items were eliminated and no other factors changed in your report.

Always check the subsequent credit reports for any errors. Most people only scrutinize the report when they see a significant decrease in their reported score. Make it a habit to regularly review the report, even if you don’t see a significant drop in the score. It’s always better to be vigilant about your credit rating than be sorry for becoming a victim of fraud.

It’s your responsibility to take care of your credit score. Future availability of financing options will depend on your credit rating, so it’s best to regularly check it for anomalies. When you find anomalous entries, you can choose to go with a credit repair process first before taking other measures to recover your rating.

Conclusion

Doing credit repair by yourself certainly is possible, but it will take significant time and effort to accomplish the task. There are many benefits of working with a credit repair agency. Why waste precious time and energy when you can have a professional do the work for you?

Repair Credit 101 offers a fast, reliable, and affordable credit repair service with guaranteed results. We have extensive knowledge and years of experience dealing with the credit bureaus and lenders, so we know the secret sauce to help you restore your credit score. Drop us a message if you want to know more about the wonders we can do for you.

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