Home > Uncategorized > How to Right the Wrongs

How to Right the Wrongs

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Last week, I wrote about not letting credit run your life.  I stand by that, but that doesn’t mean that credit isn’t important for many aspects of your life.  Potential landlords and employers may check your report for judgments and delinquencies.  And most of us are aware of how important your credit score is in getting the best rates on a mortgage or a loan for a car or education. 

Because of this, it is important to regularly check your credit reports to make sure the information is correct and that you aren’t a victim of identity theft.  To do this you have to actually see your credit report.  Luckily, you have a right to a credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) once a year.  To get your reports, go to www.annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228 or write to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.  

I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials for freecreditreport.com and freescore.com.  Ignore these sites.  www.annualcreditreport.com is the official website to get your free credit report.  The other sites often charge you for monitoring services and they aren’t always upfront about it (see a New York Times article discussing these issues here).

So, now that you know the right way to get your credit report, you are going to pull all three credit reports.  Look at each report carefully.  Is your name correct?  Birth date?  Accounts?  You’re looking for errors and you need to look carefully.  Does your report list accounts that you never opened?   So what do you do?  Who do you speak with?

  1. Write to each credit bureau (see the links above for addresses)
  2. Include your full name, date of birth, social security number, current mailing address, name and account number of the creditor and item in question, the specific reason for your disagreement and your signature
  3. Send the letters certified mail with return receipt

Click here for a sample dispute letter.  The information in italics should be personalized.

If the agency will not remove the erroneous information, you are entitled to include a 100 word statement explaining your side of the story.

So what do you do once you’ve seen the reports and confirmed that the information is accurate.  Make sure you regularly check your reports to make sure there isn’t any inaccurate activity listed.  You can pay to receive these reports throughout the year, but there is a more frugal way to watch your credit.   If you pull just one report at a time, you can check your report for free three times a year (e.g., pull one in January, pull another in May and pull the last in September). 

There are many steps in the process of becoming financially healthy and pulling and reviewing your credit report is a great place to start.  Keep in mind that your report is free, but your score is not.  You have a to pay separately for score.  But the first step is to review the report and make sure all the information is correct.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Sherri F.
    May 18, 2010 at 1:17 am

    Ms. Allman,
    I would like to thank you for your informative article. I have ordered my reports from the three major credit agencies. I think I am well overdue for a “credit check-up”.
    I read your article in Black Enterprise. Continued success!!

    • May 22, 2010 at 1:35 pm

      Hi Sherri,

      I’m glad you found the information helpful. Good luck with everything and thank you for the kind words!

      Best,
      Kim

  2. Deborah M.
    June 18, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Great article Kim! Excellent work!

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