If you have recently filed bankruptcy, and your debts have been officially discharged, it is a good idea to order a copy of your credit report to check for errors. Even if you have not filed for bankruptcy, you might want to look over your credit report if you have been denied credit to ensure that all of the information is accurate. Not only are mistakes on your credit report going to be a problem for your credit score, but nowadays landlords, utility companies, cell phone companies, and insurance companies have been known to check your credit report before doing business with you. Some credit cards companies will even raise your interest rate if they find out that you have been late paying a bill to someone else.
Get a Copy of Your Credit Report
You can obtain a free copy of your credit report once a year from one of the three credit reporting bureaus Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. Just go to AnnualCreditReport.com to request a free copy of your report.
Contact the Credit Reporting Bureaus or the Creditor
Most of the credit reporting bureaus have an online form that you can use to start the process of reporting errors on your credit report. Some prefer you to send your information by mail. Check what the preference is with the specific credit bureau you want to contact. Some people find it is more efficient to contact the creditor directly to correct the misinformation, and then tell the credit bureau to update your credit report with the correct information. It’s okay to call your creditor, but back up each phone call up with a certified letter summarizing the call. Send that letter to the person that you spoke to, and the credit-reporting agency.
“First of all, I would send the creditor a certified letter disputing the inaccuracies and send a copy to the credit bureau, with any pertinent documents to prove that it’s inaccurate,” Richardson says.
Keep Good Records
Write down the date, time, and to whom you spoke to regarding the errors in your credit report. Denise Richardson, a consumer advocate says to “Keep track of it in a phone log, in a daybook or a diary.” “It doesn’t stop inaccurate credit reporting, but it’s allowed in court if it has to go that far. It’s a record that’s taken at the time things are happening, and a court won’t call it hearsay.”
Correcting errors on your credit report can be a tedious task. It might take some time, and you will be expected to provide proof that these mistakes are in fact mistakes. Make sure you stay calm and professional when you are talking to the credit reporting agencies.
Confirm the Errors
If you the errors you found on your credit report have been corrected, you will want to obtain a copy of the UDF, or universal data form. This is a document that your creditor transmits to the credit bureaus to update your report. The UDF tells the credit bureau if there are any changes to your report such as, a payment history change, a balance update, an update of your current status, or a deletion due to an error or some other reason. It is also a good idea to have them send a copy of the UDF to all of your creditors. If the error is confirmed by your creditor they are required to notify all the major credit bureaus so they can make the corrections.
“If you get a creditor on the other line saying, ‘Yes, I’ll correct it,’ say, ‘Will you send me something confirming that?'” Richardson says.
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