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Fixing the mistakes on your credit report

Thursday Jun 10, 2010

Let's face it, mistakes are made every day and your credit report is not an exception. Millions of Americans may have mistakes on their credit reports that affect whether they are approved or denied for loans, leases and even certain jobs. These mistakes can be obvious like a misspelling of your name, or innocuous like a missing number in your address. Big or small, your financial future depends on having a 100% accurate credit report. It's our responsibility to police our reports. That means ordering you reports annually and looking them over with a fine-tooth comb in order to fix mistakes in a timely manner.

Here are a few steps to help you save your credit rating:

1. Keep all of your records for seven years. Yes I know this sounds intense, but it's a necessity. If you find a mistake on your credit report you'll need to be able to prove your case, and fixing an error does not mean it won't come back to haunt you later. Banks and creditors think you are guilty until proven innocent, not vice-versa.

2. If you find an error contact either Experian, TransUnion or Equifax. Sending a certified letter to one of these companies ensures that they receive your claim and they are required by law to contact the other two companies and start an investigation of your claim (make sure to keep a copy of the letter in your files as well). The creditor that reported the information then has 30 days to either verify or dispute your claim. You could contact one of the companies by phone or e-mail, but having a paper trail is always the best route to take.

3. The next step is to hire a legit credit repair agency. The Credit Repair Organizations Act requires firms to provide you with a statement of rights, a written contract and a three-day waiting period in case you change your mind. Be sure to read the contract and know what you're paying for and whether you want them to do this. There are some obvious scams claiming that you can create a new credit identity or remove negative accurate information from a file. Being in a bad financial situation can make you feel desperate, but participating in these scams is illegal and could leave you in a much worse place than where you started.

If these steps don't work for you, you might have to look into hiring an attorney and filing a suit against the creditor- however that can get very expensive and ugly.

Remember, your credit is your reputation.

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