Russ Thompson Managing Partner Thompson Consumer Law Group
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Credit Report Problems
Credit Report Problems
Credit reporting is an essential part of our lives, and obtaining many of the things we want and need requires a good credit history. Your credit report is pulled nearly every time you apply for a credit card, home loan, auto loan or lease, apartment rental, insurance policy, and in some instances, even when you apply for employment. If you receive a letter advising you that you’ve been declined, don’t despair as you have rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).
The FCRA was enacted to address concerns over credit reporting industry abuses. The statute requires that credit reporting agencies and the companies that furnish credit information about you to the agencies, do so with maximum accuracy. Also, your credit information is and should be private, and not everyone who wants to see your credit report can. The FCRA specifies who can access your credit report and for what reasons. When your credit report is pulled, it can also decrease your credit score. Under the FCRA, you have the right to request your credit score, review the information on your credit report, dispute incorrect entries, and limit access to your credit file.
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. If you want to order your free annual credit report online, visit www.annualcreditreport.com. You also can order your free report by calling toll-free, 1-877-322-8228, or by mailing a completed Annual Credit Report Request Form to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
If you stay in the know regarding your credit history and payment record, you will be aware of any changes or incorrect information if any suddenly appears. Under the FCRA, both the consumer reporting agency (i.e., the credit bureau) and the information furnisher (that is, the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to a consumer reporting agency) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To take full advantage of your rights under this law, tell the consumer reporting company, in writing, what information you think is inaccurate.
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 agency, it must investigate, review the relevant information, and report the results back to the consumer reporting company.
When the investigation is complete, the consumer reporting company must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. The consumer reporting company also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider.
Anytime you question your credit report:
You are entitled to ONE FREE COPY of each of your credit reports from the actual credit reporting bureaus (Transunion, Equifax, and Experian) each year by accessing www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling: 1-877-322-8228, and are also entitled to a FREE credit report if you have been turned down for credit. Once you pull your report, contact us for FREE dispute instructions (do not pay a credit repair company for what we can teach you to do for free). Let us help you resolve your credit report mistakes and get what you are entitled to under the law if these mistakes are not corrected within the time period allowed by the FCRA. If you need credit report help, contact our office for a free case review. And if you have already disputed, and anytime you have a concern with an item on your credit report, or how it is being used, please send us the following (don’t worry about what you don’t have, just send what you do)::
- Complete copies of your credit reports (including the section marked “Inquiries”);
- Copies of any dispute letters you have mailed to the credit reporting agencies regarding this matter (please also send copies of any certified mail receipts that you have to show when the credit bureaus received your dispute);
- Investigation Results from the credit reporting agencies, along with the complete copy of your credit report that was enclosed with your results;
- Copies of any collection letters you have received;
- Copies of any credit denial letters showing why you were turned down for financing, loan opportunities, etc.; and,
- Any other documents you feel are relevant to, or support your claim.