Caution: This article covers credit repair letters used to dispute inaccurate information. When disputing accurate information, see BestCredit: How to Win the Credit Game, Chapter 9.
Disputing inaccurate bad credit using letters.
One thing you must always consider carefully when removing inaccurate information is your FICO credit score. Some inaccurate information may not be adverse at all, and its presence may be helping your score more than it’s hurting it. Even certain inaccurate information that is adverse may be helping more than hurting by virtue of its age, credit limit, and so on.
When erroneous bad credit information exists, simultaneously contact the bureau(s) and the furnishers. Remember to handle all such correspondence in writing only, using the insurance method (certified mail, return receipt). Do not use the online forms the bureaus provide for any reason. By providing them with every possible bit of information, spelled out in writing and accompanied by supporting documentation, you preclude any possible claims on their part that the information you provided is incomplete. Furthermore, should a legal battle ensue, any claims they make in defense of their actions will not help them. They’ll be hog-tied, pinned, finished. Get it? It’s game over. Protections are in place under the FCRA for your benefit, and your paper trail provides the necessary proof when they fail to follow the rules.
Be specific when disputing inaccurate bad credit entries.
When you’re disputing inaccurate information with the bureaus, it’s important to be as specific as possible. Bureaus will often expedite the processing of your dispute if it contains your (1) full name with suffix, (2) current address (as reported by a current creditor) and previous addresses over the previous 24 months, (3) date of birth, (4) telephone number, (5) SSN, (6) spouse’s name if married, (7) current employer, (8) description of the item in dispute accompanied by a copy of your credit report with the item highlighted in some fashion, (9) explanation as to why you are disputing the information (e.g., “doesn’t belong to me”), and (10) request to delete or correct the erroneous information.2
Note: Be aware that any information given to a credit bureau will announce it to collectors.
Your initial correspondence with bureaus and furnishers should not contain any threats or even mention of legal action. It should simply be clear and concise and list any ways in which the inaccurate entry is hurting you. By rule, a dispute must also be signed by the consumer, so even if a lawyer is working on your behalf, be sure and sign any letters to a credit reporting agency.
2. NCLC Fair Credit Reporting § 18.104.22.168 (5th ed. 2002 and 2005 Supp.).