Most individuals are aware of the impact poor credit can have on their lives. What they are often not aware of is how common it is for a credit report to contain significant errors which negatively affect their score.
A 2012 Federal Trade Commission study found that one in five consumers has an error on at least one of their reports. Think about that. That’s the equivalent of roughly 65 million Americans.
Fortunately, there are ways for individuals to combat these trends. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Credit Billing Act, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are designed to remove derogatory, inaccurate, and unsubstantiated notes from credit reports.
Nearly every credit decision in our market today is based on an individual’s credit score or scores. The questions of whether your application will be approved, the interest rate you have to pay, and the amount of deposit you have to put down all revolve around this number. In a worse-case scenario, bad credit can keep you from getting a home or car, and can unnecessarily cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
Individuals suffering from the effects of a low credit score, or those who are intent on maintaining the accuracy of their good score, should be aware of the affirmative steps they can personally take to quickly remove derogatory information and to rapidly improve bad scores.
The first step in this process is to pull a copy of each of your credit reports. There are three major consumer credit agencies that generate reports on individuals. You can pull a free copy of all three reports once a year from the federally authorized website. Once you have a copy of your reports, go through them with a fine-toothed comb and mark each every instance where there is some piece of information that you believe is inaccurate, unfair, or impossible to substantiate. This includes inaccuracies as small as misstated numbers, dates, places, or events.
The next step is to gather any evidence you have to support your assertions.
Once you have identified inaccuracies and collected evidence, you can initiate the dispute process with each of the relevant agencies. Once an agency receives a dispute to information on a consumer’s credit report, it has 30 days to conduct an investigation. If the disputed information is unable to be substantiated within that 30 days, it must be entirely removed from the report.
It is important to note that individuals can take all of the above steps on their own and without the support of an attorney or credit repair service. However, many people find the services of an experienced professional to be an invaluable help in understanding their rights and in achieving a successful outcome. The costs of these services are often vastly overshadowed by savings incurred through having a higher credit score.
If you feel you are in need of help in removing inaccurate information from your reports and in raising your credit scores, please contact our firm to discuss your case.