clean-up-credit-report

New to the Live Richer Challenge: Credit Edition? Learn more about it HERE.

 

 

WEEK 2: Credit Improvement

This Week’s Goal: To raise your credit score.

Day 8: Credit Report Clean Up

Today’s Easy Financial Task: To identify items on your credit report you can dispute.

How to rock this task:

  • Review each item on your credit report for accuracy
  • Identify errors, incomplete records, and items you can dispute
  • File a dispute
  • Get your free Credit Repair Guide from MagnifyMoney

Welcome to Week 2 of the LRC: Credit Challenge! How are you feeling, Dream Catcher?

Are you ready to dig in? This week we take ACTION! Our theme for the next seven days is, Credit Improvement.

Let’s get to it!

This week is going to be jam-packed with tasks that will set you on the path to improving your credit score and report. For today’s task, we’re going to clean up your credit report by identifying incorrect items that you should dispute.

There are several reasons why there could be errors or incomplete records on your report. Sometimes mistakes happen when inputting the personal information, payment history, and account data on your report or account updates (like an acknowledgment that you’ve settled a debt) aren’t reported to the bureau(s).

Incorrect or incomplete information can have a negative impact on your score. We don’t want that, my friend.

The good news is under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you have the right to dispute items on your report.

The reporting agency must respond to your disputes (unless frivolous) and provide verification of each record. If they can’t verify the record it must be removed.

Yup, you’ve got some power here!

So, today I want to you dig into your credit report to locate items you can dispute. Then, I’ll tell you step-by-step how to file a dispute.  

First, pull out a pen and your free credit report(s) from Day 3’s task.

Here’s what you need to review on your credit report:

1. Your personal information: Check your name, address, and basic information to make sure they are all correct.

2. Each of your accounts: Scan the accounts carefully on your credit report to verify that what’s being reported is accurate. Here are a few aspects of your accounts that you want to double-check:

  • The payment history on all accounts are correct and current
  • There are no accounts that don’t belong to you
  • There are no old debts that appear unpaid that you’ve taken care of
  • The status of each account including the day you opened and/or closed the account is correct

3. The age of any negative history: After seven years, negative history like late payments should fall off of your credit report. If old negative history is still appearing on your account beyond 7 years, this is something you can dispute to have removed. Public records like bankruptcy, judgments, tax liens, or foreclosure can stay on your report for up to 10 years. Again, if you see a public record showing up beyond ten years, you have a right to dispute it.

4. Your public record information (if applicable): Check that your public records (tax liens, bankruptcies, or civil judgments) are accurate including the dates, courthouse, docket number, and status (paid or unpaid).

5. Check the credit inquiries: Make sure that in the hard credit inquiry section, that you gave each creditor listed permission to access your credit information.

If you find any items on your credit report that you need to dispute, circle them and then head on to the next step.

 

How to Dispute Errors

Here’s how to dispute to clean up your report:

1. Grab the mailing address: Grab the address of the credit bureau you want to dispute your report with below:

Experian

Experian

P.O. Box 4500

Allen, TX 75013

 

Equifax

Equifax Information Services LLC

P.O. Box 740256

Atlanta, GA 30374

 

TransUnion

Consumer Dispute Center

P.O. Box 2000

Chester, PA 19016

 

2. Gather proof: Put together the evidence to send to the credit bureau. Include documents to prove your identity like a copy of your state issued ID, driver’s license, or utility bill with your current address.

3. State your case: Write a letter to the bureau detailing the information you found that’s incorrect and include your proof in the letter. Also, include a copy of your report with the errors marked.

4. Send the letter through certified mail: Make sure to request a return receipt. After you send in a letter, the creditor has to investigate the item(s) you found within 20 days unless your claim is found to be frivolous.

5. Warning: Don’t use the online dispute. The online dispute option may have fine print that says you give up the right to re-dispute that claim if the bureau makes a decision that’s not in your favor. You don’t want to give up your right to dispute again if necessary.

NOTE: If you’re applying for a mortgage in the next 6 months be mindful about disputing it may temporarily lower your credit score. Ask the real estate professionals that you’re working with, i.e. realtor and mortgage banker.


 

If your request is approved…

The credit bureau will send you an updated copy of your credit report. You should also ask them to send a correction notice to anyone that’s performed a credit check on you in the last six months.

Remember, you have three credit reports from three credit bureaus. If you found an error on one, you should check the others to make sure they’re accurate as well.

 

If your request is denied…

Within 15 days of the date, the investigation is concluded, the credit bureau has to show proof of the information from the company used to verify the item on your credit if you request it. If they cannot provide this information, the item has to be removed from your credit report.

This is all quite a bit of paperwork, so you should develop an organization system to keep track of your credit reports, the information to back up your dispute, and the date you need to request verification of the record.  

Being persistent may cause them just to correct the information rather than jumping through the extra hoop of getting you the proof.

Bottom line: Don’t give up!

 

Disputing Reports with Original Creditors and Collections Agencies

Both the bureaus and the entity that provides the data on your report are equally responsible for keeping it accurate. If you noticed an error, it’s important to also resolve the error with the original creditor.  

Call up the company that reported the error to the credit card bureaus to find out how you can file a dispute. Send the same proof that you send to the credit bureaus to the reporting entity.

Now, it’s time to conquer this task! Our sponsor, MagnifyMoney, has a free Credit Report Guide to help you really rock this task. You can get it HERE.

Let your people on Twitter know what you’re doing:

Today I learned how to clean up my credit report! Day 8: #Liverichercredit Click To Tweet

 

If you have any questions, hit the comments below.

Don’t forget to keep tabs on your accountability partner(s)! Teamwork makes the dream work.

Live richer,

Tiffany

 

You can reach out to me here:

Twitter: @thebudgetnista

Instagram: @thebudgetnista

Facebook: The Budgetnista

Private Forum: Dream Catchers : LIVE RICHER

Thanks to our sponsor, MagnifyMoney, for today’s post. You can visit them HERE.

 

P.S. Don’t forget to get your free Live Richer Challenge: Credit Edition Starter Kit. Get it HERE.

 


*** Need Help? Feeling Overwhelmed? Want to work with someone one-on-one to improve your credit? Netiva “The Frugal CrediTnista” is offering her renowned, full credit improvement services & consultations at a special discounted price just for Dream Catchers! Learn more and get the help you need, HERE. ***

 

Want to work through the Live Richer Challenge: Credit Edition in a workbook? It’s part of a bestselling series and has already hit #1 on Amazon! Get your copy below.

 

My Lisa Rule: I have 4 sisters and Lisa is the baby (well she’s not a baby anymore). Of all of my sisters, I’m the most protective over her. Before I share any product or service with you, it must pass my Lisa Rule.

What’s the Lisa Rule? If I would not advise Lisa to use a product or service, I won’t advise you to either. YOU are my Lisas. I feel protective over you and your financial journey.

The products and services I recommend pass my Lisa Rule. Yes, I may be an affiliate and earn a commission off of referrals, but I would not recommend a product or service that I didn’t believe was helpful and useful.

 

The Challenge is sponsored by

  • Laurie Pierre

    Good Morning Tiffany, Admin & fellow dreamers,
    I have a question. There was a time when i did pay off items that were in collections yet I was banking with another bank at the time. My memory is FOGGY. Is there a way to get statements from that far back to see if the current collection I have was paid? I know some were automatically taken from my checking account at the time.

    *By the way, you weren’t kidding when you said we’d be working this week…lol

    • Netiva

      You can contact the bank and get past statements, some banks go back pretty far and they do charge for past statements, so keep that in mind.

      Otherwise, you can send the collection agencies a validation letter and have them prove if past payments were made or not.

      Keep in mind that if they are older collections it’s best to just leave them be, especially if they aren’t bothering you. Focus on rebuilding 🙂

      • Laurie Pierre

        Thank you Netiva for responding. That helps me narrow down what really needs my attention.

        • Netiva

          You’re very welcome 🙂

  • Nawkole Kendace

    Good morning Tiffany and Administration;

    I have a question in regards to the hard inquiries on my report. Last year I visited two car dealers with the intention of purchasing a car. Unfortunately I was not approved for a loan with either company. I noticed that both dealerships ran my credit multiple times within a three week period. I was wondering if whether this is legal.

    Thank you in advance for your assistance with this question.

    • Netiva

      Hi Nawkole it is legal if you gave permission for them to run your report.

      Fortunately, FICO knows that people rates shop when shopping for a car or home or student loan.

      Therefore, FICO will only count the inquiry as 1 inquiry. All of the inquiries will show on your credit file as they did gain access to your report. However, for scoring purposes it will be scores as 1 inquiry since they were pulled on the same day

      • Nawkole Kendace

        Hi Netiva,

        Thats great news! Thank you for answering this question for me.

  • S. Drake

    Good morning … anything behind 7 years should be taken off … but from which date?

    • Netiva

      Hi Drake!

      It’s 7yrs from the date of your first delinquency

      So, if you became past due on an account in Mar of 2015, and never brought the account current again, it’ll be 7yrs from Mar 2015 on negative accts.

      Closed positive accts remain for 10yrs from date of closure

      • Taisha

        Hi, I have the same issue. Not sure which date I should be going by. What if you never made a payment but on the report it has last payment made and date updated? Can I still dispute?

        For example: midland funding placed for collection 7/2015
        loan type:debt buyer
        date updated 12/15/16
        last payment made 2/26/16 (did not make an actual payment but did agree over the phone to make a payment)
        Original creditor: capital one
        Can this be disputed or corrected?

        • Netiva

          if you never made a payment then it is wrong. If you signed something saying you’d make a payment then you have formally acknowledged the debt.

          If you did not sign anything did not make a payment it is wrong and can be disputed

    • Good question!

  • T. Johnson

    Good Morning,

    Q1. I paid a car off in 2014 and recently made another purchase in 2016. There is no record of my previous car on my credit report. Should I contact the company to ask to have it reported since it is a display of good payment history? (Note: my new car is being included on my report)

    Q2. Once I pulled my report, I found a judgment that I had no idea existed. How do I find out what it is and if I am actually responsible?

    Q3. I was an authorized user on a credit card that was in bad standing (missed payments and over the debt limit). I have requested to be removed as an authorized user. Will the account history be removed from my credit report? How long will this take? Will be credit score increase once removed?

    Thank you so much for your help on these questions!

    • Seva_B

      For Q1, is it missing on all three reports? Sometimes companies report to one or two agencies instead of to all agencies.
      For Q2, I would dispute it with the credit reporting agencies. See “Trea Pullings” post up above with a sample letter.
      Good luck

      • T. Johnson

        1) It is missing from all three reports.
        2) OK

        thank you!

        • Seva_B

          Ok, I meant to ask if you saw that on the FICO report (Discover/American Express) or the Vantage report (Credit Sesame/Credit Karma/Capital One etc). If it’s any of the FICO reports, you definitely want to get it amended. If the Vantage, I don’t know that I would worry about it because the FICO scores are what lenders use 99% of the time.

    • Netiva

      Q2 if you are not aware of a judgment, I would contact the courthouse where the judgment is filed to obtain additional information regarding it. Whether it’s on your report or not, a judgment has power that you do not want them to enforce — bank levies and wage garnishments.

      Q3: It should have been removed the same day if the request was made over the phone. If your scores are going to go up or not is relative to what else is reporting on your credit reports

  • Shaun

    Hello my question is once something has gone to collections and you’ve paid it off, what should it say on your credit report? Closed or paid? And the balance is showing $0.

    • Netiva

      it should state paid collection as the payment statuts as far as the account status collections (on the bureau report, not a credit monitoring report) always report closed

  • Trea Prophetic Voice Pullings

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/632c9739216d1a1ef12f3e15d23d3606c9080edf680d44590d7496ad6a3a6e18.png

    SECTION 609 IS WORTHY TO BE MENTON HERE ON THIS BLOG…… IT’S LETHAL INFORMATION WHEN DEALING WITH CREDIT DISPUTES.

    • Seva_B

      Good info! Thanks.

    • Latoya

      How can I get the 609 letters?

      • Trea Pullings

        I uploaded the dispute letters on this post.

        • Trea Pullings

          Copy and paste.

    • Laurie Pierre

      Trea thank you very much for the example. Is Example pg 2 in our dream catcher group?

      • Trea Pullings

        Yes ma’am, pg 2 is up loaded here also. Search the blog for it thru the comments.

  • Tee Bee

    Good Afternoon,
    I have a question regarding a collection on my credit report that I disputed, or asked for the collection to be validated, over a year ago. I sent the letter to the collection agency and to the credit bureaus. It currently shows on my credit reports as, ‘disputed by consumer’. As I stated, I sent the letter over a year ago, and haven’t heard anything from neither the collection agency, nor the credit bureaus regarding the result of the investigation. I did receive a letter from the collection agency letting me know that they received my validation letter, and would notify me once they had the requested validation information, but have not heard from them to date. Any advice on how to proceed? I don’t get any phone calls from the agency asking for payment, but I would like that account off of my credit report, if possible. Thanks in advance for your response.

    • Netiva

      If they never validated, it’s an unverifiable debt and does not have to remain on your reports

      Simply write a letter summarizing the above: you sent in a request to validate your account and they failed to do so, it’s been over a year and they have still not validated this debt. Per FCRA this is an unverifiable debt and legally cannot remain in your credit files

      • Tee Bee

        Thank you! Will get on this ASAP!

        • Shaneequa Cannon

          If you let Credit Shield 360 do it, you may have a lawsuit and get some money out of it. You can upload a copy of that letter to CS360.

  • NaKysha Johnson

    Hello Tiffany and Team, I have a question: I have 4 closed accounts on my credit report from Sallie Mae. They was closed in 2009 because it was transfer or sold to Navient. It’s not showing any payment history. Do you know if it’s possible to remove those accounts or should I leave it alone? I don’t know if it’s hurting my credit score or not. Please help. Thanks

    • Vonetta Irby

      Great question I’m in the same predicament.

    • Netiva

      If it’s closed and transferred, you can leave it be, it wasn’t charged off or unpaid, so it shouldn’t be negatively impacting your scores

      • Toya West

        So there no benefit to having them removed?

  • Seva_B

    Unfortunately, I can’t really dispute the one derogatory…missed payments on my mortgage. All I can do is keep checking with them on the hold up. I had to walk away from my house due to divorce and the mortgage company is dragging it’s feet on the Deed In Lieu. The second mortgage was charged off. In the meantime, each month the payment on the primary gets reported as late, suppresses my score. I went from an 800 to 676 (Discover FICO). Sigh.

    • Netiva

      why haven’t they made moves to foreclose yet?

      • Seva_B

        I have no idea. Everything looked like a go for the Deed in Lieu except the house needed to be empty. But then my ex-husband refused to move out of the house so I had to take him to court…that was the first delay. The first person was really knowledgeable and helped me negotiate through everything.

        I had to restart the process and this person I’m working with now has been really stressing me because she doesn’t seem to know what documents she needs. I had my lawyer send them a letter in the language of “approve the Deed in Lieu or tell us why not” so I am waiting to hear what they have to say.

        • Netiva

          They could have offered cash for keys, thats how I got a lot of people out when I listed bank owned properties as a realtor

          • Seva_B

            I heard back from them last week…actually, I called since my lawyer had not gotten a response. I was told they are verifying that the title is clear. This after having this second application since March of 2016. I don’t understand why it’s dragging on, but I have no obvious choice but to wait.

            The first application was August 2015 with conditional approval (the house being empty) given January 2016.

  • Debra Carter-Mallard

    What if you are still under ch13, is it OK to do dispute letter, self lender, and secured cards?

    • Netiva

      Your trustee needs to approved any new forms of credit, I certainly wouldn’t dispute items that you are paying on and have not completed the payments, unless they are truly inaccurate.

  • Sharon Gamble-King

    Trea Prophetic, can you resend pg 2. I can’t see it. I have page one. If not, no problem, I’m sure there are samples out on the internet somewhere. Thanks. I made a mistake and went “online” and did disputes with Experian. I will dispute via mail with the other two! Thanks for this good information

    • Trea Prophetic Voice Pullings

      Yes here it is sorry for the late reply. You should NEVER DISPUTE ONLINE…….. as you give up your https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/833cbe61ee9a6c78bacedb852ce8fe6ee19423787d4e1d6c5ab8f9109519a80b.png rights to never dispute that or those items again if the decision don’t fall in your favor……. Good luck!

    • Netiva

      You can dispute them again, you don’t give up your rights permanently, you simply dispute another area of the account so as to trigger a completely new dispute in their systems.

  • Dana Johnson

    If I am using Collection Shield 360, should I dispute any items they have already disputed? They are using my Credit Karma reports.

    • Netiva

      No, 360 disputes collections only, if they are working on your behalf let them continue to do so, disputing simultaneously does more harm than good

      • Dana Johnson

        Thx

      • Taisha

        How effective is CS360 in getting accounts removed? Is it reputable?

  • Courtney

    Good evening DC’ers, I have an account that I have settled and paid off, however the report states it as Unpaid balance charged off. It is up for removal from my credit report in February of this year, do I dispute? Q2; I have an account up for removal next February, do I allow it to be charged off, or attempt to set arrangements? (It’s a student loan, and I am currently paying on other student loans…….grrrrrrrrrr to student loans!!!!) Thanks in advance! Continue to Flourish your Fiances this year DC’ers!

  • Fay Henry Reddick

    All information appears to be correct. It seems I have some years before the closed accounts will be removed from my reports. Thanks for the information!!

  • Vonetta Irby

    I have actually disputed online prior to challenge and was successful because many were past 7years and a payment not reported correctly. The disputes were in my favor but should i hsve any concerns in the future.

    • Netiva

      If they were deleted and haven’t come back, you’re all good 🙂

  • Taisha

    Good evening,

    I have a judgement which the date filed was incorrect? However I dont really have proof. How do I obtain proof and can this be removed because of this error? I hear a lot of people saying judgments can’t ever be removed whether you paid or not until the statue of limitations is up.

    • Netiva

      They’re typically deleted after 7yrs from the date of filing. If the filing date is wrong, dispute that the filing date is wrong. You can always call the courthouse where the judgment is filed to obtain documentation that it is wrong. I wouldn’t necessarily send that in to the bureaus as if they are pulling their info from the public records it should coincide and the burden of proof of accuracy is on them if you want it removed

      • Taisha

        Thanks so much!

        • Netiva

          You’re welcome 🙂

  • Michele L.

    Should/can “charge off’s” be taken off after 7 years? If not, are there grounds for a dispute?

    • Netiva

      7 years from the date of first delinquency, yes.

      • Michele L.

        Thanks so much!

      • Shawndolyn Hampton

        Netiva, any idea how the date of first delinquency is determined? Im asking bc I have a government overpayment from before 2005 when I was in the Air Force. I got out of the military in Jan 2005 and never paid anything on this debt (not intentionally, I just never had the money to repay in full). On my report it has a date opened of June 2005, date of first delinquency as Oct 2011(the confusing part), and delinquency first reported as March 2012. 7 years after the 2005 date is when I tried to get it removed, but now it’s being updated monthly on my report monthly. I have NEVER EVER paid on this debt, so I’m wondering why the date of first delinquency is in 2011. Is this so that they can make sure it stays on my credit report?

        • Netiva

          Government debts work differently. Some have statute of limitation, some don’t. if they don’t then it depends on when the debt became collectible and what is ‘collectible according to their collection policy. If the debt that you owe has no statute of limitations they can always come after you, now if it should be reporting after all this time is a different story. You can file a CFPB report on FCRA violations if it’s past the 7yr reporting limitations on the bureaus, since that is the concern and not if you owe it or not after all this time

  • Taisha

    Hi should we dispute inaccuracies first or request verification? I have some collections that are inaccurate and some that could be accurate but I need verification. Is it two separate requests? If so which to do first? You mentioned on live chat to focus on the recent 2 years. However most of my collections are in the past 3-4 years.. in 2012-2014… should I leave those alone? I have like 3 in collections since 2015 but the other 7 or prior to that. My main goal is buying a house. So trying to pay off wisely and save at the same time.

    • Netiva

      If repairing to purchase a home, remember medical collections are ignored. FHA is the most lenient to other collections and typically look at the past 2-3yrs, however if they are over $1000-2000, they may be require them to be paid/settled. If you’d like to set up a free consulation, feel free to click on the link above (I’m Netiva 🙂 )

  • msnick

    Hello, I have a few accounts I previously disputed online that were verified as accurate and weren’t removed, should I dispute them again? Also, is it better to dispute via sending letters myself or can I use Collection Shield 360?

    Thanks!

  • Alitha Hawkins

    I got my reports and have been disputing and cleaning up my information. TU, I had a total of 10 collections. I disputed 8 of them and 4 have been removed and one of them was a judgement that was removed. Thanks for the help and insight of this group. I am waiting for my score to update.

  • Samona

    Good afternoon, I’ve read through the posts and would like to understand the judgement on my report. I have one from missing my court time to dispute the debt and because of that, Its now assigned as mine to pay. What happens if I settle with them for a portion, will they remove it since it went through the court system?

  • Tre

    I disputed an address I’ve never lived at and forgot all about it honestly. I just checked my report on CK and it has been removed and my score went up 2 points. Yayy

    Everything else seems accurate 🙁

  • Derby

    I disputed an item. It was removed. A few days later it was reported again and my score dropped 48 points and since dropped another 12. I was at 682 and now it!s 622.

    • Toya West

      Did you use the 609 letters for this?

  • Toya West

    Does anyone have any experience with the 609 letters? I read the FCRA and it did not say, exactly what the letters state as being written in the act. Is it open to interpretation? Has this actually worked for anyone…I mean, if the 609 letters really worked, wouldnt EVERYONE know about it and have a clean credit record?

    • Trea Pullings

      Yes ma’am, basically the section 609 states: if the credit bureau report any information in your reports they must have copies of the original documents with YOUR SIGNATURE FROM EACH REPORTING SOURCE. IF THEY DO NOT OBTAIN THESE DOCUMENTS LEGALLY YOU CAN DISPUTE AND THEY MUST BE REMOVED. COMPANIES DO NOT SUBMIT THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS WITH YOUR SIGNATURE TO THE CB. I’VE DISPUTED 8 ITEMS USING THIS METHOD AND ALL ITEMS HAVE BEEN REMOVED points went up by 103pts. Everyone don’t know about this because EVERYONE DON’T TAKE THE TIME OUT TO READ THE LAW. SINCE I’VE LEARNED ABOUT THIS I’VE BEEN SHARING WITH EVERYONE I KNOW AND EVEN HELPED OTHERS CLEAN THEIR CREDIT ALSO.

      • LaKeshia Cox

        Did you dispute all 8 at once or spread the disputes out over time? Please let me know which you think is best. Thanks for the advice!

        • Trea Pullings

          All at once. It’s safe to dispute no more than 20 items at a time.

          • LaKeshia Cox

            Thank you! That’s good news.

  • Linette

    Hi all DC’s If you name is spelled wrong would help to have them correct my name?

  • LaTeisha Clement

    I called to dispute errors on my report, before I got to this challenge. Was that wrong to do as opposed to mailing the documents?
    If I have additional items to dispute that I just noticed, can I call back or write the letter?
    Does disputing your report lower your credit score?

  • Rachel Rivera

    I cleaned my credit up back in 2013/2014 and haven’t checked it since. I check it now and I have a state tax lien from 2011. It was reported in 2015. I literally just paid the IRS their final payment March 15, 2017. I moved and never received notification at my new address and the lien was orginally filed in the county I moved from them refiled in my current county. I’m so upset that this was the only derogatory mark on my credit. Everything else was in good standing and never late!! This will affect my credit for at least 10years. Besides just paying it in full what else could I do to make my credit look better?

  • Chloé Cleaux

    No more online disputing without reading the fine print. Thank you for that information because that was how I did my disputes.