How to Receive Your Free Credit Report
Consumers can obtain “consumer disclosures” (commonly known as “credit reports”) free once a year. See the link on this site under “useful links” to print out the form. You can also get the form from the site at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp — make sure you print out the form and do not order via the Internet.
The best way to do this is through the mail — not on the phone — not on-line. You want to have a paper trail. You also do not want to unknowingly agree to a binding mandatory arbitration clause that will forfeit your right to file a dispute in court.
Send the request via certified mail, to the address on the form. Make a copy for your records, and keep all certified mail receipts!
Consumer Reporting Agencies
The three main consumer reporting agencies (often called “credit bureaus”) are:
701 Experian Parkway
P.O. Box 9701
Allen TX 75013
2. Equifax (CSC Credit Services)
CSC Credit Services
El Paso, TX 79998
3. Trans Union, LLC
111 W. Jackson St., 16th Floor
Chicago, IL 60604
Rights Relating to Your Credit Report Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
Review your credit report carefully. Look for all errors. Look for accounts that you do not recognize.
You must send a written dispute about your credit report directly to the consumer reporting agencies (commonly called “credit bureaus”) in order to establish your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Send the dispute to the credit bureau. Do not direct the dispute to the credit card companies or debt collectors (called “furnishers” of information). Consumer rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act are not triggered by disputes made directly to the creditors/furnishers. You should also send a copy to the furnisher (credit card company, bank, or debt collector), but the dispute itself must go to the consumer reporting agency (credit bureau) to be effective under the law.
Promptly dispute in writing with the consumer reporting agencies if there are errors on your report or accounts that are not yours. These are red flags that either your credit file is mixed with that of someone else or potentially you are the victim of identity theft.
If you dispute the completeness or accuracy of information in your consumer credit file and you notify the consumer reporting agency, the consumer reporting agency must — free of charge — conduct a reasonable investigation to determine whether the disputed information is inaccurate. The consumer reporting agency must record the current status of disputed information or delete it from its file.
Within 5 business days of receiving your dispute, the consumer reporting agency must forward your dispute to the furnisher of the credit information (the creditor or collection agency).
The furnisher must conduct reasonable investigation of the dispute.
The furnisher must report the results of its investigation to the consumer reporting agency and other consumer reporting agencies to which it reports.
The furnisher must correct its own records if they are inaccurate.
The consumer reporting agency has 30 days to complete investigation (45 days if you send additional information during the 30 day period).
The consumer reporting agency must delete information that it finds to be incorrect or which cannot be verified by the furnisher of the information.
The consumer reporting agency must provide you with a written statement of its results of its investigation and a copy of your revised consumer file, as well as a notice of your rights.
Check the reinvestigation results carefully to see if the error was corrected.
You have the right to insert a 100 word statement of dispute.
If a consumer reporting agency has deleted information as a result of a dispute, it may be a violation for the consumer reporting agency to reinsert that deleted information.
How to Dispute An Error On Your Credit Report
- Write a letter telling the consumer reporting agency what is wrong with the credit report.
- Type it if possible.
- Be brief, direct, polite.
- Do not cite laws or threaten a lawsuit.
- Write in plain English.
- Provide sufficient detail, like names, addresses, and phone numbers.
- Include copies of relevant documents, such as:
- Copy of consumer report itself (with mistakes high-lighted)
- Account statements
- correspondence from the creditor
- court papers if available
- any proof you don’t owe the money
- multiple samples of your handwriting, if there is a dispute that “it’s not my account”
In your letter, ask that the consumer reporting agency forward copies of everything you enclose to the creditor or furnisher of credit information.
If you have been turned down for credit as a result of a credit report error, tell the consumer reporting agency this. Send a copy of the letter turning you down for credit.
Always send copies, never original documents. Keep copies of all of the enclosures you send with your copy of the dispute letter, so you remember what you sent.
Send your dispute letter to the consumer reporting agency via certified mail, keep a copy for your records, and save your certified receipts. Staple the certified receipts (coming and going) to each letter you send. If multiple accounts are involved, it is easy to confuse these receipts if you don’t have a system to keep track of what you mailed.
Do not do oral disputes by telephone! It may be faster, but you have no proof of the dispute. Also, you do not preserve important consumer rights when you dispute by telephone.
If you follow the above steps and the consumer reporting agency refuses to remove the credit account from your report, you may want to get legal assistance from a competent consumer protection lawyer, who has experience in dealing with your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
We do not promise “credit repair.” Only a consumer reporting agency or furnisher of credit information can decide what remains on your credit report. We cannot help you correct adverse information that is accurate. However, in appropriate cases, we sue consumer reporting agencies and/or furnishers of credit information who have violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
If a consumer reporting agency refuses to correct an error that you can prove is inaccurate and you have already followed the above steps, click here to contact us.
Credit Repair Organizations
Beware of companies promising “credit repair” or debt negotiation. Very often these companies end up charging you a lot of money and failing to deliver promised results. Many times, your participation in their programs end up putting you in further financial trouble.
Except for a nominal amount of money which can be charged by a non-profit consumer credit counseling service, companies cannot charge you for services relating to credit repair before the services are provided.
If you have been ripped off by a credit repair organization or a company promising to eliminate your debts or improve your credit, you may want to get legal assistance from a competent consumer protection lawyer, who has experience in dealing with credit repair organizations.
We sue credit repair organizations who violate the law. If you want to contact us to help you with this problem, contact us.