Increasing your credit score is never an easy task, but by disputing any incorrect or negative marks on the credit report this process is can be a lot easier. Negative marks on your credit report can include late payments and collections attempts for past due accounts that have been due for a long time. Generally, these negative blemishes stay on the credit report for up to seven years. That is a long time to be flagged for one missed payments.
The best way to find a negative mark on your credit report is to retrieve a copy of the credit report, find all of the negative points, and then begin the process of disputing them with a dispute letter. Copies of your credit report can be ordered from any one of the major credit bureaus such as Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Following the instructions that the credit bureau has given, circle all the items you want to dispute. With every entry that you have highlighted, provide a brief explanation as to why you would like to dispute them and then mail the letter. Check out the sample dispute letter at the bottom of this post. Your explanation and excuse must be concise and to the point.
According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which governs the credit bureaus, a credit bureau has 30 days in which they must investigate a negative mark on your credit report after you dispute it. If they have agreed to remove any negative marks, they will inform you once the investigation has been completed. If the blemishes have not been removed, the items are then marked as verified. In such a case, the bank, creditor, or the collection company that is reporting the negative entry should be contacted for further proof on the entry. When contacting them with the inquiry, you must ask for a copy of the agreement, verification that the debt is actually indeed yours, and also how they calculated the amount. They are required by the FCRA to prove that the negative entry was actually yours or else must take the negative marks off your credit report. Their correspondence usually takes up to 30 days.
When a creditor, bank, or collection agency contacted have not responded within the 30 day limit, then mail them another certified letter with return receipt conformation informing them that they have reported invalid information to the credit bureau. For an added emphasis, add that you will write to the Federal Trade Commission which governs the FCRA and sue for legal action against them. A response to this action is almost guaranteed to get a response from them. When they have responded with the evidence, go over the material to see if it is insufficient. Where the evidence is not enough, mail them back and tell them to remove the negative marking. This method is sure enough to increase your credit score if even just a little and help you in the long run, especially where you may need to request a loan. After all, in today’s economy, every little increase in your credit score will help you pay less in interest down the road.
Sample Dispute Letter
City, State, Zip Code
Name of Company
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. I have circled the items I dispute on the attached copy of the report I received.
This item (identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.) is (inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why). I am requesting that the item be removed (or request another specific change) to correct the information.
Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records and court documents) supporting my position. Please reinvestigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct) the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.
Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing.)