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STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT

Correcting Your Credit Report

This step-by-step guide shows you the best way to correct inaccurate information on your credit reports. First, check the expiration dates of the records. Next, customize our sample dispute letter and send your correction to the credit bureaus. Keeping your credit reports accurate can be that simple!

Step 1: Look for inaccuracies

Order your credit reports and credit scores from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion online. Print each report and review it carefully. Highlight any inaccurate information and negative records that could be harming your credit scores. Check when the negative records are set to expire using this guide:

·                       Bankruptcy filing records – Bankruptcy filing records expire from your credit reports 10 years after the filing date. Based on credit bureau preferences, Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings may be removed from your report after 7 years instead. Each account marked as “included in BK” remains on your report for 7 years from the filing.

·                       Charge-off records – A record appears on your credit report when a creditor or lender charges-off your delinquent debt as a loss. This record remains on your credit report for 7 years.

·                       Collection records – Collection records expire 7 years after the last 180 day late payment that led to the account being sold to collections. This expiration date is the same even if the account was sold to another collection agency.

·                       Closed accounts – Closed negative accounts (with late payment or other negative records) will expire from your credit report after 7 years. Closed positive accounts (with no late payments or other negative records) can remain on your credit report longer.

·                       Foreclosure records – Property deed-in-lieu and foreclosure records will remain on your credit report for 7 years.

·                       Inquiries – Records of credit and loan applications will remain on your credit report for 1-2 years. Checking your own credit reports and scores online does not cause this kind of damaging inquiry.

·                       Judgments – Court decisions such child support, civil, and small claims judgments will remain on your credit report for 7 years after the filing date.

·                       Late payments – All late payment records remain on your credit report for 7 years. However, only late payments that go beyond 30 days will continue to have a negative impact for all seven years. Read more about the real impact of late payments.

·                       Repossession records – Vehicle and property repossession records remain on your credit report for 7 years.

·                       Tax liens – Tax lien records can remain on your credit report indefinitely if left unpaid. Once the lien is paid, the record remains on your credit report for 7 years from the paid date. This is true for city, country, state, and federal tax liens.

You should use this expiration information to determine what items on your credit report are really inaccurate. Along with expired records, look for fraudulent accounts, crossed records, and data errors on your report.

Step 2: Write a dispute

Once you have determined exactly what is inaccurate on your credit reports, it’s time to write a letter of dispute to the credit bureaus. You will need to send a letter to each of the three credit bureaus to have the information investigated and corrected on each of your credit reports. Even though all three bureaus now offer online disputing, it is a good idea to still write your dispute in letter form for your records. You can use this template to put together your dispute letter:

(Date)

(Your name)
(Street address)
(City, state, and zip code)
(Phone number)

Dispute Investigation Department
(Business name)
(Street address)
(City, state, and zip code)

Dispute Investigation Department,

I am writing to inform you that there is inaccurate information on my credit report. The following data is not correct and should be updated:

(List each inaccuracy on your credit report. Include exactly why it is in inaccurate and what it should be replaced with)

I have attached a marked copy of my credit report to assist your investigation. In addition, I have included (list the copies of account records, statements, and communication records). Please feel free to call me at (phone number) if you have any questions or need additional information to resolved this dispute.

Thank you for your assistance with this matter,

(Your full name)
(Signature)
(Social Security number)

Step 3: File a dispute

Submitting your dispute by mail is best, but only Equifax and TransUnion allow this kind of dispute. Experian requires all disputes to be submitted online. For phone or online disputes, you may need to provide the identification number located at the bottom of your recent credit report. Using the information you put together in Step 2, submit your dispute to each of the credit bureaus:

Equifax
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Dispute online

Experian
Dispute online

TransUnion
2 Baldwin Place
P.O. Box 2000
Chester
, PA 19022

1-800-916-8800
Dispute online


Step 4: Track the results

The credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate your dispute and make changes to your credit report. Once this investigation is complete, they will send you a letter that includes information about what was and was not updated on your credit reports. If you were unable to get an error corrected, try submitting your dispute again with new documentation. You can also try working directly with the company that reported the error to have the matter corrected. Once you receive notification that an error has been updated or removed from your credit report it is a good idea to do a final credit check to confirm that the changes have actually been made to your satisfaction.

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