First it’s important to make sure you get reports from all three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and Trans Union) so that you have a full picture of your credit history.
Some companies only report to one agency. Some report to all three, but if you are committed to repairing your credit, you need all three so that you don’t miss anything.
Then go over your credit reports carefully. Check to see that there are no errors such as a bill you have paid, but that is still being shown as owed.
People at credit bureaus are human too and make mistakes just like you! If you don’t call attention to these mistakes, no one else will.
Closely examine each negative account to determine what avenue to use to get that account removed or upgraded to a more positive or neutral rating.
You will find countless errors in credit reports. Especially between the three bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Transition. These credit bureaus are to follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act to a “T” and doing so is quite hard. Information contained in credit reports must be not only accurate, up to date, complete but totally 100% verifiable. Questioning items in credit reports to creditors and credit bureaus will commonly result in those negative items being removed or updated.
Please know we are not in the business of getting our clients out of debt they legally owe. We do however try to get outdated, unverifiable, inaccurate and incomplete accounts either updated or removed from their credit reports.
If a credit bureau responds with different results than another, it can be used as leverage to better negotiate settlements with terms and conditions. (I will talk about this in more detail when I talk about properly settling debts).
You do not have to question the obvious information such as charge off or collection agency information but rather all the little details that make up the entire listing. Even the smallest piece of information can mean the difference between getting a great settlement and/or the item being updated or removed. Otherwise it sits there for up to 7 to 10 years.
I by no means want to brag when I tell you that our clients see an average of 45% of their negatives being deleted in the validation process and another 25% deleted during settlement negotiations! But I say that to prove my point that credit reports are full of inaccurate, outdated, unverifiable and incomplete accounts.
Below are some of the items that you want to look for when reviewing your credit reports before beginning the validation process:
- Are the balances, credit limits, payments and dates opened all correct?
- Is the date of last activity correct? (The last time you paid or they reported you late)
- Is the account being reported by a collection agency and the creditor?
- Has it been paid off but is not reflected?
- Was it closed but does not reflect that?
- Is it a spouse’s or relative’s account?
- Is it current but showing late?
- Is the account number right?
- Is your name correct on the credit reports?
- Is your social security number correct?
- Are there duplicate accounts for the same lender listed?
- Is the account listed positive on one report but negative on another?
- Did you file bankruptcy but the accounts included do not reflect “included in BK.”?
- Is your bankruptcy accurate: Filing date, discharge date, dollar amount filed for etc.?
- Is the tax lien satisfied or vacated but does not reflect it?
- Was judgment paid but no satisfaction of judgment was ever filed?
- Was it a medical bill that the insurance company did not pay?
- Has the statute expired to legally report and or collect the debt? This is very important!
As you can see from the list above, there are countless pieces of information that you can question. Remember that every bit of information must be accurate, verifiable, up-to-date, and complete.
These are all the items that must be closely examined. Creditors make reporting mistakes all the time. If you do not catch them and report the mistake, it will remain. Once you determine what the mistakes or errors are, then challenge those items.
Disputing online sounds fast and efficient right? Wrong! Disputing online was created to make the credit bureaus jobs easier not yours.
There is little regard to consumer interests when disputes are generated online.
Do not dispute online for the following reasons:
- Paper Trail: With online disputes there is no paper trail to evidence the details of the dispute.
- Limited Dispute Reasons: With the limitation of dispute reasons, an accurate description of the dispute is difficult in most cases.
- Expeditious Dispute Resolution
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) section 611a (8) changes the standard requirements and protections afforded to the consumer by the FCRA. In the “Expeditious Dispute Resolution” section:
The agency shall not be required to comply with paragraphs 2, 6, and 7 with respect to that dispute if they delete the trade line within 3 days.
Paragraph 2 requires the CRA to forward your dispute and all related documentation you provide to the creditor. They rarely forward the documentation.
If credit reporting agencies delete an item without forwarding your dispute to the data furnisher, the data furnisher will re-report this item in the next reporting cycle. The data furnisher will most likely not be aware of your dispute therefore they may simply re-insert the item. There is a standard notice that is required to be sent prior to any reinsertion of a deleted item.
Paragraph 6 requires the CRA to provide you with written results.
Paragraph 7 requires the CRA to provide you with the method of verification on request from the consumer.
The “Method of Verification” tactic is a powerful tool in the dispute process. If expeditious dispute resolution is used, the right to utilize this tactic is eliminated.