Are there entries on your credit report that do not belong to you? These may be the result of a file merger error on the part of the credit bureaus. Or they may be the result of a more nefarious case of identity theft. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you very specific and powerful tools to correct cases of identity theft and to quickly block the erroneous information from appearing on your credit report and impacting your credit scores.
Most disputes are governed by FCRA Section 611 procedures which rule that “if the completeness or accuracy of any item of information contained in a consumer’s file at a consumer reporting agency is disputed by the consumer and the consumer notifies the agency directly, or indirectly through a reseller, of such dispute, the agency shall, free of charge, conduct a reasonable reinvestigation to determine whether the disputed information is inaccurate and record the current status of the disputed information, or delete the item from the file, before the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date on which the agency receives the notice of the dispute.”
A Powerful Credit Repair Tool
Section 611 procedures are normally fine, but if you have a pending transaction that requires your credit report to be in top form and time is of the essence you should consider getting out the big guns. The FCRA remedy for identity theft is the most powerful and quick acting tool available. But before you utilize this powerful credit repair tool you need to determine that the erroneous information on your report is something more than a file merger problem.
Assess the Situation
Many of the erroneous entries that appear on consumer’s credit reports are due to annoying file merger problems resulting from deficiencies in the credit bureau’s data management systems. These are altogether too common and do not fall into the category of identity theft. If you examine your credit report and discover an account that does not belong to you it is essential to take action immediately. The first step is to call the creditor that is furnishing the data to the credit bureau and ask them if the account is truly under your name. In many cases victims of file mergers discover quickly that these mysterious accounts belong to someone with similar identifying characteristics, like a similar name. In this case your credit repair efforts will fall under Section 611 as indicated above. But if the creditor says that it is your account and verifies your name and address, and you know that this is an account that you never personally opened it is time to act.
An Identity Theft Dispute must include an Identity Theft Report which may be obtained from an authorized agency including, but not limited to, your local police department, the FTC, the States Attorney General Office, and The United States Post Office. In addition to the Identity Theft Report you must include clear proof of your identity, identification of each suspect account on your report, and a statement that the suspect information is not related to any transaction made by you. Don’t make the mistake of providing speculation about the disputed items. The credit bureaus only want the simple facts. Many credit repair efforts are foiled by too much information. Don’t muddy the water.
Once you have properly submitted an Identify Theft Dispute to one of the credit bureaus they are required to take immediate action. The FCRA (Section 605B) mandates that a credit bureau block the reporting of any information that you have identified as having resulted from identity theft within four business days of the receipt of your dispute. The blocking of information means that it cannot be included on your credit report nor have any impact on your credit scores. To further accommodate your dispute the three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion must refer your dispute to each other. This eliminates the burden of dealing with your credit repair project in triplicate. Other rights related to identity theft include Fraud Alerts and Credit Freeze which may or may not be appropriate for your situation.
Contact a Credit Repair Professional
If you feel in doubt about the process and want clarification contact a credit repair professional. Most reputable credit repair companies will offer a free consultation and take the time to clarify any concerns that you may have. If you would rather hire someone instead of doing it yourself, a competent credit repair professional can perform the work for you in an efficient and careful manner.