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The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
by Jeanette Joy Fisher
No matter what many credit counseling scam artists may try to tell you, no one can legally remove any information that is up-to-date and accurate from your credit report. They can't do it, and you can't do it yourself. However, you CAN request an
No matter what many credit counseling scam artists may try to tell you, no one can legally remove any information that is up-to-date and accurate from your credit report. They can't do it, and you can't do it yourself. However, you CAN request an investigation of anything you find in your credit file that you believe to be either incomplete or inaccurate. That is perfectly legal, and can be done at NO cost to you. In fact, anything that a credit repair company offers to do for you can be done yourself, generally free or for a nominal fee.

In fact, there's a law that guarantees it. It's called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under provisions of the FCRA, you are entitled to receive a free credit report if a company denies your application for credit, employment, or insurance. You must ask for the report within sixty days of the refusal, and the company must tell you which credit reporting company they used, and provide you with their address and phone number. (The three nationwide companies most often used are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.)

The FCRA has made it mandatory for consumer credit reporting companies to correct information that's incorrect or inaccurate. To correct inaccuracies, you must first contact the reporting company, in writing, telling them which information is incorrect or incomplete. In your correspondence, include copies of documents that will verify your claim. (Don't send originals!) Clearly detail why each piece of disputed information is incorrect, and then ask that the inaccurate information be either corrected or removed from your file completely. It's generally worthwhile to include a copy of the credit report itself, with each disputed item circled.

Once you've put your package together, send it to the company in question by certified mail, indicating "return receipt requested." That will allow you to be certain that the company received your package. Also keep copies of everything for yourself, of course!

The FCRA makes it mandatory that the reporting company investigate each item you have disputed, often within thirty days, unless they consider your dispute to be unworthy of researching further. By law, they must also forward everything you have provided them on to whatever company or organization initially provided the disputed information in the first place. That provider must then review and investigate the situation and report back to the reporting company. If the provider has mistakenly provided inaccurate information, they must correct it with all three major reporting companies.

Once the investigation has been completed, the FCRA mandates that the reporting company must provide you with the results, in writing, and a free copy of the report if the investigation resulted in a change in your credit report information. You may also request that a copy of the amended credit report be sent to anyone who may have received the disputed report during the previous six months. If the report was given to potential employers, you have a right to request that a corrected report be sent to any employer who may have received the inaccurate report during the past two years.

Copyright Jeanette J. Fisher

 
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