The Fair Credit Reporting Act (also referred to as FCRA) is a federal statute designed to protect the rights of consumers and to regulate the practices of those who provide information to the credit reporting agencies themselves and credit report users. Under the act, a consumer is allowed to make a legal claim against and sue the credit reporting agencies, creditors, and debt collectors who report information that is wrong.
The consumer has specific rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Some of these rights are as follows:
- You must be told if information in your file has been used against you.
- You are allowed to find out what is in your file.
- You can dispute inaccurate information with a credit reporting agency (CRA).
- Inaccurate information must be corrected or deleted usually within 30 days after you dispute it.
- You can dispute inaccurate items with the source of the information.
- Outdated information may not be reported.
- Access to your file is limited.
- Your consent is required for reports that are provided to employers or reports that contain medical information.
- You may seek damages from violators of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- There are three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. You should review all three credit reports at least once each year to ensure that there is no incorrect or inaccurate information.
- The following is information you will need to order your credit report. We strongly advise you to order your credit report in writing and NOT online as you may end up signing a binding arbitration agreement which will prohibit you from filing a lawsuit if your credit report is wrong and it harms you.
- You are entitled to 1 FREE credit report each year from EACH credit bureau. We recommend that you order your free credit report in writing by printing off the annual credit report form, filling it out, and mailing it to the Atlanta address on the form. (Click here for the form for you to print off and fill out and mail to the Atlanta address) It is also a good idea to mail a copy of a utility bill or something that shows you are the person at the address you put on the form. We strongly recommend that you never order your credit reports on-line so that you can avoid signing a binding mandatory arbitration agreement. The website for the true, free credit reports is as follows: www.annualcreditreport.com
THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS PRESENTED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. WE RECOMMEND GETTING YOUR CREDIT REPORTS FOR FREE AND THAT THE BEST WAY TO DO SO IS BY MAIL WITH THE ATTACHED ANNUAL CREDIT REPORT REQUEST FORM (click here) OR BY MAIL DIRECTLY FROM THE CREDIT BUREAUS AND NOT ONLINE SO THAT YOU CAN AVOID SIGNING A BINDING MANDATORY ARBITRATION AGREEMENT!!!!
If you are unable to get your free credit reports as discussed above, you may request a copy of your personal credit report from the following three national Credit Bureaus. If you are thinking about or intending to submit credit report disputes, we strongly recommend that you DO NOT do so online with the credit bureaus as you may be required to agree to binding mandatory arbitration which will severely limit your rights if you can’t get your reports corrected and you need to sue to do so. DO NOT AGREE TO BINDING MANDATORY ARBITRATION!!!
When requesting your personal credit report in writing directly from the credit reporting agencies, using personal check or money order, you must provide the following information with your request:
- First, middle and last name (including Jr., Sr., III)
- Your current address
- Previous addresses in the past 5 years, if any.
- Your social security number
- Your date of birth, current employer, phone number, signature
- Applicable fee ($12.95)
Expect a 14 business day waiting period to receive your copy in the mail.
Anytime that you write to the credit reporting agencies, do NOT do so online. Use the physical addresses below by mail. Remember, any dispute that you write and mail in must be done be certified mail, return receipt requested to ensure and confirm receipt of the dispute.
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104
Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 105873
Atlanta, GA 30348
TransUnion Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
These three agencies (Experian, Equifax and Transunion) supply most of the information about you and your current and previous payment histories and outstanding debts to all of your creditors. Once you receive your credit reports, review them carefully. If you think any of the information is incorrect or inaccurate, a form is supplied by the credit reporting agency with the report you ordered which has your account number on it for easier processing. You can use that form to specify in detail the exact problems that you see. Once you identify the problems, please ensure that any written correspondence is done by certified mail, with a return receipt requested so that you can verify that the credit reporting agency received your credit report disputes.
Learning How to Spot a Credit Report Error & What the Error Could Mean
Obtaining your credit report and reviewing the information each year is an easy way to spot errors, if you know what you are looking for. Getting the report is the easy part. Understanding it may be a whole other story. However, if you keep employ the three C’s (compare, check, and completely read), you can easily find any errors and take steps to correct them.
- Compare – Comparing your reports from each of the three bureaus, as well as comparing your reports from year to year, can help you identify discrepancies and errors. For instance, if one report shows that you paid an account off, but it isn’t reflected in a report from another bureau, then you need to update that bureau with more most current status.
- Check – Review your name, address, social security number, and other personal information on your reports. If you see information that isn’t yours, such as an address you don’t recognize, your data could have been mixed up with another person’s data.
- Completely Read – Read your credit report in its entirety, paying close attention to your personal information as well as the negative information. If you see entries for accounts that you don’t recognize, you may have inaccurate information on your report.
A good rule of thumb is to question anything that you don’t recognize. Credit bureaus are not infallible. Certain information can be included on one report, but not on another, so you need to review all three to get the most accurate picture.
Disputing Your Credit Report
Please also feel free to use the following sample credit report dispute letter that you change to your specific situation and also make sure that you send it by certified mail, return receipt requested. Make and keep a copy of the signed and dated dispute letter that you mail out.
Sample Credit Report Disputes Letter
Your full mailing address
Your city, state zip code
Date of letter
Name of Credit Report Agency (Transunion, Equifax, Experian)
City, state, zip code
After reviewing my credit report, I am writing to dispute the following information. I have circled the disputed items on my attached report. These include (list item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.)
This item(s) is(are) inaccurate because (list exactly why each item is incorrect or incomplete).Supporting documents have been enclosed. Pursuant to the FCRA, please forward them to the credit furnishers. If you are not going to forward them, please inform me immediately so that I may do so myself.
Your name printed AND signed name
(List what you are enclosing)
Please ensure that you MAIL your credit report dispute letter by CERTIFIED MAIL, RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED so that you can verify that the letter was actually received. Please also KEEP COPIES of ALL of your letters and all documents and enclosures that you send and receive. You may send a dispute letter to each CRA from which you have ordered, received and reviewed a copy of your report if you think there are errors or wrong information. The physical addresses (do not use a PO Box!) for the dispute letters to the three credit reporting agencies are as follows:
1550 Peachtree St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30309-2468
701 Experian Parkway
Allen, TX 75013
555 West Adams St
Chicago, IL 60661
Please ensure that all of your communication with all of these credit reporting agencies is done in writing and that you verify the receipt of your letter by sending it certified mail, return receipt requested. Please remember to be courteous in your written communication to the credit reporting agencies. Please remember to keep a copy of all signed and dated letters that you both send and receive. If you have been damaged by inaccurate or incorrect information on your credit report and you have tried to correct it without success, please feel free to contact our office that is most convenient to you.