WEEK 1: CREDIT IMPROVEMENT

New to the Live Richer Challenge: Credit Edition? Learn more about it HERE.

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Day 8: Credit Report Clean Up

Today’s Easy Financial Task: To identify items on your credit report you can dispute.


How to rock this task:

  1. Review each item on your credit report for accuracy
  2. Identify errors, incomplete records, and items you can dispute
  3. File a dispute


Welcome to Week 2 of the LRC: Credit Challenge! How are you feeling, Dream Catcher?

Are you ready to dig in? This week we take ACTION! Our theme for the next seven days is, Credit Improvement.

Let’s get to it!

This week is going to be jam-packed with tasks that will set you on the path to improving your credit score and report. For today’s task, we’re going to clean up your credit report by identifying incorrect items that you should dispute.

There are several reasons why there could be errors or incomplete records on your report. Sometimes mistakes happen when inputting the personal information, payment history, and account data on your report or account updates (like an acknowledgment that you’ve settled a debt) aren’t reported to the bureau(s).

Incorrect or incomplete information can have a negative impact on your score. We don’t want that, my friend.

The good news is under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have the right to dispute items on your report.

The reporting agency MUST respond to your disputes (unless frivolous) and provide verification of each record. If they can’t verify the record - it must be removed.

Yup, you’ve got some power here!

So, today I want to you dig into your credit report to locate items you can dispute. Then, I’ll tell you step-by-step how to file a dispute.  

First, pull out a pen and your free credit report(s) from Day 3’s task.

Here’s what you need to review on your credit report:

1. Your personal information: Check your name, address, and basic information to make sure they are all correct.

2. Each of your accounts: Scan the accounts carefully on your credit report to verify that what’s being reported is accurate. Here are a few aspects of your accounts that you want to double-check:

  • The payment history on all accounts are correct and current
  • There are no accounts that don’t belong to you
  • There are no old debts that appear unpaid that you've taken care of
  • The status of each account including the day you opened and/or closed the account is correct

3. The age of any negative history: After seven years, negative history like late payments should fall off of your credit report. If old negative history is still appearing on your account beyond 7 years, this is something you can dispute to have removed. Public records like bankruptcy, judgments, tax liens, or foreclosure can stay on your report for up to 10 years. Again, if you see a public record showing up beyond ten years, you have a right to dispute it.

4. Your public record information (if applicable): Check that your public records (tax liens, bankruptcies, or civil judgments) are accurate including the dates, courthouse, docket number, and status (paid or unpaid).

5. Check the credit inquiries: Make sure that in the hard credit inquiry section, that you gave each creditor listed permission to access your credit information.

If you find any items on your credit report that you need to dispute, circle them and then head on to the next step.

How to Dispute Errors:

Here’s how to dispute to clean up your report:

1. Grab the mailing address: Grab the address of the credit bureau you want to dispute your report with below:

  • Experian:

Experian

P.O. Box 4500

Allen, TX 75013

  • Equifax:

Equifax Information Services LLC

P.O. Box 740256

Atlanta, GA 30374

  • TransUnion:

Consumer Dispute Center

P.O. Box 2000

Chester, PA 19016

2. Gather proof: Put together the evidence to send to the credit bureau. Include documents to prove your identity like a copy of your state issued ID, driver’s license, or utility bill with your current address.

3. State your case: Write a letter to the bureau detailing the information you found that’s incorrect and include your proof in the letter. Also, include a copy of your report with the errors marked.

4. Send the letter through certified mail: Make sure to request a return receipt. After you send in a letter, the creditor has to investigate the item(s) you found within 20 days unless your claim is found to be frivolous.

5. Warning: DON'T USE THE ONLINE DISPUTE. The online dispute option may have fine print that says you give up the right to re-dispute that claim if the bureau makes a decision that’s not in your favor. You don’t want to give up your right to dispute again if necessary.

NOTE: If you're applying for a mortgage in the next 6 months, be mindful about disputing as it may temporarily lower your credit score. Ask the real estate professionals that you're working with, i.e. realtor and mortgage banker.

Need a sample Dispute Letter? Checkout some sample templates for inspo HERE!


If your request is approved...

The credit bureau will send you an updated copy of your credit report. You should also ask them to send a correction notice to anyone that’s performed a credit check on you in the last six months.

Remember, you have three credit reports from three credit bureaus. If you found an error on one, you should check the others to make sure they’re accurate as well.

If your request is denied…

Within 15 days of the date, the investigation is concluded, the credit bureau has to show proof of the information from the company used to verify the item on your credit if you request it. If they cannot provide this information, the item has to be removed from your credit report.

This is all quite a bit of paperwork, so you should develop an organization system to keep track of your credit reports, the information to back up your dispute, and the date you need to request verification of the record.  

Being persistent may cause them just to correct the information rather than jumping through the extra hoop of getting you the proof.

Bottom line: Don’t give up!

Disputing Reports with Original Creditors and Collections Agencies

Both the bureaus and the entity that provides the data on your report are equally responsible for keeping it accurate. If you noticed an error, it’s important to also resolve the error with the original creditor.  

Call up the company that reported the error to the credit card bureaus to find out how you can file a dispute. Send the same proof that you send to the credit bureaus to the reporting entity.


Let your people on Social Media know what you’re doing and tag me @thebudgetnista:

Today I learned how to clean up my credit report! Day 8: #Liverichercredit


If you have any questions, hit the comments below.

Don’t forget to keep tabs on your accountability partner(s)! Teamwork makes the dream work!

Live richer,

Tiffany


P.S. Don’t forget to get your free Live Richer Challenge: Credit Edition Starter Kit. Get it here.

P.P.S. Here’s a copy of the Challenge Calendar. It’s a fun way to keep track of your progress.

You can also reach out to me here:


My Lisa Rule: I have 4 sisters and Lisa is the baby (well she’s not a baby anymore). Of all of my sisters, I’m the most protective over her. Before I share any product or service with you, it must pass my Lisa Rule.

What’s the Lisa Rule? If I would not advise Lisa to use a product or service, I won’t advise you to either. YOU are my Lisa's. I feel protective over you and your financial journey.

The products and services I recommend pass my Lisa Rule. Yes, I may be an affiliate or partner and earn a commission off of referrals or income, but I would not recommend a product or service that I didn’t believe was helpful and useful.


Share the wealth!


  • Hi Tiff. Love you! The sample template of the dispute letter didn’t work for me. I guess the link is broken. Can you please post it somewhere?

  • Hello. I received a “Cancellation of Debt” form 1099-C in the mail today for a debt that went to collections and now it is reporting a discharged amount. Is this deemed “taxable income” when I complete my taxes? If so, how??? I never received a form like this before.

  • My original Lien holder sold my contract to a collection agency during the process of receiving payment from my auto Insurance for a totaled vehicle. The dealer was a Buy-Here Pay-Here and offered Gap Insurance, in which I purchased. I sent the collection agency the gap insurance information. They did eventually receive the payment from the dealer that my insurance sent them, but they stated that the Gap Insurance only paid a percentage of the balance. Once they just received the percentage from the Gap insurance, they forwarded me the first due payment that I did not pay!!! Now it’s 30 days past due on my credit report. Is this case disputable?
    It’s very recent, the original dealer is no longer in business, sold all contracts when they folded.

  • I sent a dispute to all three credit companies on a collection that was false l received a response from one who is taking it off. What do l do we the other two? The collection and inquries really bring down your score

  • I did a complete scrub of my credit report. There were no discrepancies found. However, I need to work on reducing the balance on my credit cards. The struggle is real but I am determined to stay focused and reduce my credit card balance.
    #Today I learned how to clean up my credit report!

  • Hi Tiffany. As far as errors and incompleteness, what if I have a car loan that’s been closed (fully paid) but status says “30 days pat due”. Does this affect anything negatively? Do I need to dispute? All other closed accounts state “current”

  • obviously like your website but you need to test the spelling on quite a few of your posts Several of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very troublesome to inform the reality on the other hand Ill certainly come back again

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