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:: How to deal with Credit Bureaus

Tips for dealing with Credit Bureaus, or Credit Reporting Agencies

The simplest way to obtain your credit report is to contact the credit reporting agencies directly. The items listed on your credit report can be positive, negative or neutral.

Items on your credit report that are negative such as an overdue account, can only remain on your credit report for seven years.

You have the right, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, to dispute the completeness and accuracy of information in your credit file. If there are genuine mistakes or outdated items in your report, you can fix them yourself for free or for only a few dollars.

To dispute information in your credit report, directly notify the credit-reporting agency. Submit your dispute in writing, along with copies (not originals) of documents supporting your position.

Besides providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each disputed item, explain why you dispute the item, and request deletion or correction. You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the questionable items circled.

Send your dispute by certified mail return receipt requested. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures to document what the agency received.

If the agency cannot verify a disputed item, it must delete it. If your credit report contains erroneous information, the agency must correct it. If an item is incomplete, the agency must complete it.

If a re-investigation does not resolve your dispute, the Fair Credit Reporting Act permits you to file a statement of up to 100 words to explain your side of the story. That explanation must be included in every report the agency sends.

You must know that any adverse information more than seven years old must be deleted from your file, whether it is challenged or not.

Credit reporting agencies are permitted by law to report bankruptcies for 10 years. Any negative information may be reported indefinitely if you apply for $50,000 or more in credit, a life insurance policy with a face amount of $50,000 or more, or a job paying $20,000 or more.

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