How to Write a Dispute Letter
According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) http://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-credit-reporting-act you have the right to a credit report that is verifiable and demonstrated to be accurate, complete, and within prescribed timelines. For example, ordinary credit card account data is to be reported for no more than seven years. Your report must show the correct balance due. It cannot show you were late twice without also showing that the rest of the time you paid right on schedule.
Use the mail! If you have one or two small matters to dispute, then by all means use the online dispute process. For anything else, you are going to get the most attention and better results if you send your dispute the old fashioned way, via the United States Post Office.
- Do you have your Bankruptcy Discharge Order in hand? You need to have the court’s order discharging your debt and the schedules you filed with your bankruptcy within easy reach. It is the document you will use when you have disputes about credit accounts that were included in bankruptcy.
- Some creditor sites will try to scare you by saying you have no right to dispute “negative information that is supposed to be there,” meaning by this that accurate information cannot be disputed. This is, of course, illogical and absurd.
- You can dispute anything on your report! How else would you learn whether or not it can be verified? You may not need or want to dispute things that are positive, but you are certainly entitled to do so.
- You are not permitted to knowingly supply false or fraudulent documents and information to support your disputes. Also, if you make needlessly repetitive disputes, if you deny things that are self evident, the CRA may deem your dispute frivolous and refuse to process additional complaints.
- Still, credit reports contain lots of information. It’s highly unlikely that you have it committed to memory. It’s equally unlikely that you maintain files to back up everything in that report. Neither do creditors and information suppliers. Everyone relies on records, and those records are not consistent, and they are often unreliable.
- Dispute! It is the 100% lawful way to clean up your report. Do it with a strategy. Get rid of information that is erroneous. Get rid of out of date information. Get rid of excess/unverifiable information. Clean up your report so that it contains as much positive and as little negative information as you can manage.
By law, free credit reports
Federal Law gives you the right to receive a free copy of your credit report every twelve months. If you have not requested your free copy within the last year, you should take full advantage of this legal right.
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ALL RIGHT, LET’S GET TO IT!
Preliminaries: To be most effective in changing how your personal information is handled by CRA and marketing companies, you must do a few things. Before you begin making any specific disputes, you want to opt out of the system in a more general way. Manage your “credit footprints” as much as you can by reducing the numbers of people who can profit from it.
1) Put your phone(s) on the Do Not Call Registry.
You can use this link or phone number donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 .
2) Opt out of the Direct Marketing Association database.
DMA members, including Experian, use the DMA list to remove names from their own mailing lists. Simply write them and say, “Take me off the lists. I choose to opt out. Remove my name, address and other information from your marketing database.”
DMA Mail Preference Service
PO Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
3) Pull your credit reports.
You can get a copy of your credit reports free, once each year, at AnnualCreditReport.com.
In addition, within 60 days of a decision denying you credit, you are entitled to a free credit report from the agency that supplied the report that was used to make the decision against you.
4) Opt out of CRA marketing
Opt out of CRA marketing for the five year period that is permitted online. Choose the five year opt-out because you can do it instantly on-line. optoutprescreen.com. You can also opt out at Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688).
Once you have a copy of your credit report…
STEP ONE. Review your credit reports.
If you filed bankruptcy, then chances are that you had numerous accounts go to collections. Many of them were sold or transferred and reported under different account numbers assigned by collectors. You need to organize them mentally or make some written notes so that you can keep the duplications together. Make a list of things you will dispute in your first letter to the Credit Reporting Agencies.
STEP TWO. Start with simple, easy disputes.
Dispute things like nicknames and aliases, previous addresses, and old employer information (if there is any on the report). There is no reason for a data thief to have your life story, so make the companies verify these old addresses. Chances are they can’t or won’t. You may very well find accounts that are not yours. Sometimes these are mistakes where another person with a similar identity is mingled with your account. This is a simple error. Other times you may find someone has used your identity to open an account you never knew existed. This is a crime. In either case, you start by disputing the account and follow up with any reports needed for legal authorities.
Every account that was included in your bankruptcy discharge should say “Discharged in Bankruptcy” or “Included In Bankruptcy.” Each of these accounts should have a zero outstanding balance. The furnishers of information, mostly made up of creditors and banks, often supply erroneous information about discharged debts. They will not report that it was included in bankruptcy. They will report that the account has a balance due. You should dispute every account that does not show it was included in your bankruptcy and you should also demand that the balance due be corrected to show a “0” balance due.
Draft a letter that includes these items as round one of your dispute process. You should not dispute everything at once. It is legal to do so, but it does not seem to be as effective as cleaning up your report in stages. Be patient. We suggest you make at least two efforts, and probably three or four.
Make copies of your credit report and the bankruptcy discharge orders. You will circle the accounts you are disputing in order to show which information you dispute. Enclose a copy (keep the original) in your letter. Also enclose a copy your driver’s license or state ID. You can black out the first few numbers of the DL number and the day/month of birth. Mail your letters with Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested (CRRR). Keep copies of everything. Get a file, a cardboard box, a shoebox, or something else and keep all of your credit dispute documents in it. Stay organized!EXAMPLE LETTER #1 EXAMPLE LETTER #2