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Financial Literacy - Credit scores
Fixing errors on your credit reports
Take these steps to purge inaccuracies and old data from your credit report.
Credit scoring, demystified

Correcting credit reports

5 ways to dispute errors
Regardless of which route you take, you're going to want to back up your work with a paper or electronic trail. Make folders (plain manila or in your computer) with copies of all correspondence. If you fill in an online form, take a screen grab and save it to this folder. If your contact was via phone, either dump the digital recording in your computer folder or store the tape. You're going to want to keep track of how much time you put into resolution in case it escalates. You can keep your logged hours in the folder.

Contact the creditor, too
Your chances of getting this resolved in one go improve if you contact the creditor directly as well. Just as with the credit agency, any request you make should be sent certified mail. And make a copy. Never assume based on a conversation you've had with a customer service representative that things have been resolved. And ask them to send a letter back confirming what has been done. File that, too, and verify the resolution in the free report you are entitled to by virtue of your dispute.

Checklist for DIY credit dispute:

  • Report to one CRA (keep records).
  • To expedite, contact lender (keep copies).
  • Mark calendar for 30 days, then follow up.
  • Check your free report (you're entitled to another free report) to make sure the changes are reflected.
  • If not cleared up, escalate. Consider contacting a lawyer.

If things get nasty dealing directly with a creditor, you may need to contact a lawyer; but it is hoped you won't get to that point. To escalate you'll need to either introduce new information or contact a lawyer.

Once you resolve issues concerning a credit report and your score, go back to your insurer and creditors to ask for a better rate based on your improved score. This may or may not work, but asking the question could save you big bucks each month.

2. Hire a credit repair agency
If you see ads promising debt relief, be mindful that some may just be offering bankruptcy, Rebecca Kuehn of the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, warns. You'll want to know what exactly it is they're offering. "There are legitimate debt management companies," she says, "but you can only repair credit to the extent that you are disputing incorrect information. And you can do that for free yourself."

-- Posted: June 18, 2007
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