For many people, understanding a credit report can feel overwhelming and confusing. Since credit reports are used for everything from renting an apartment to obtaining employment, it is essential that the information provided is correct and accurate. The following is an overview regarding credit reports and credit disputes.
What is a credit report?
A credit report is used by financial institutions, employers, landlords, and others to assess an individual’s creditworthiness. The report is a history of an individual’s credit accounts and payments. It contains information on:
- Whether an individual has missed or been late on any payments to creditors
- Current and previous addresses
- Social security number
- Open credit card, student loan, mortgages, and other accounts
- Current balances on accounts
- Past revolving credit accounts that are now closed or canceled
- The number of times you have recently applied for credit
- Any collections, charge-offs, or past-due accounts
- Whether an individual has filed for bankruptcy
How is a credit report obtained?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a Federal law which governs credit reporting agencies and mandates that every individual with a free copy of their credit report once every twelve months. These agencies include "the big 3" - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Individuals must request the copies of their free report in order to receive them. Free reports can be ordered in any of the following ways (we recommend the third so that there is a paper trail in case litigation is necessary):
- Online at annualcreditreport.com
- By phone at 877-322-8228
- In writing (preferred) using the Annual Credit Report Request Form, sent to Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348
Once an individual has received this free report, the agencies are usually permitted to charge for additional copies of a credit report, unless certain exceptions apply, such as if it is requested due to credit denial.
How can errors on a credit report be fixed?
If an individual identifies errors on a credit report, then he or she should consult an experienced credit report lawyer for assistance. Under federal law, the credit reporting agency and the person, company, or organization providing the information are responsible for correcting inaccurate information on a report. While the credit attorney evaluating the error will advise his or her client on how to proceed, the following is a general overview:
- Contact the credit reporting agency in writing by certified mail with a return receipt requested;
- Include copies of documents to support the claim;
- Clearly identify every item on the report that is in dispute;
- State the facts surrounding the dispute;
- Request a removal or correction;
- If not resolved, file a lawsuit to have the credit report corrected.
To learn more, contact a Virginia credit report attorney with over a decade of experience in handling credit dispute matters. For a consultation, call our office today at 888-691-9319.