Credit report – Can you erase incorrect and unfamiliar debts from it?
Discovering an unfamiliar debt on the credit report has become a common incident nowadays. No one wants to bear the brunt of someone’s financial mistake. You would never want to pay off the debt of another person. Nor would you prefer to take out time from your busy schedule to fix your credit report. However, with a little preparation and planning, it is possible to wash out all the wrong debts from your report. Read along to know how you can purge all the wrong information from your credit report.
It is possible to remove bizarre debts from your credit report
In a recent survey conducted by the FTC, it has been found that consumers have been able to eliminate the inaccurate debts from their credit report. However, some consumers have not been able to get the exact result they wished for.
Check out the 7 steps that will help your credit report say ‘good bye’ to the weird debts.
1. Take a glimpse of your credit reports: Remember that there are 3 credit reporting agencies in the country. Now, all the creditors/collection agencies do not report to the 3 credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Some creditors may report to TransUnion and Equifax while others may report to Experian.
If you have discovered an unknown debt on your TransUnion credit report, then you need to verify if the same thing has been reported on the other credit reports as well. You can verify the information by pulling the credit report from the other 2 credit reporting agencies.
2. Scrutinize every item on your credit report: Keep the 3 credit reports in front of you. Take one credit report at a time and mark all the inaccurate items. Unknown debts do not instantly imply that you’ve been a victim of a fraudulent activity. Your creditor may have assigned the account to an assignee debt collector or sold the account to a debt buyer. It may also be the case that a collector has sold an old debt which should have dropped from your credit report. Another possibility is that the credit reporting agency has made some mistake.
Sometimes the credit reporting agencies mix the information of the people with similar surnames, contact details and Social Security Numbers. It often happens that the credit reporting agencies have mixed the information of a mother and daughter sharing the same surname.
3. Contact and explain that the debt is not yours: This step is pretty much inevitable. Contact the credit bureaus in writing and explain that wrong debt information has been entered on your report. You can dispute the errors by logging into the website of the credit reporting agencies and filling out the online forms. The employees of the credit reporting agencies will investigate and find out who is right. Make sure you keep the copies of all the documents. Note down everything in writing.
4. Contact the debt furnisher: The credit reporting agencies will contact the creditor while investigating your case. After all it is the creditor who has reported the debt to the credit reporting agencies. This means that the creditor thinks you really owe the debt. You need to clear the notion of the creditor. So, pick up your phone and inform the creditor that the debt is not really yours. This may help to resolve the issue quickly.
Send a photocopy of the dispute letter to your creditor. Enclose all the important documents with the letter. Send the letter via certified mail with return receipt requested.
5. Request for credit freeze if required: If you discover a suspicious activity on your report, then request for a credit freeze. It will help the new creditors from viewing your credit report without your prior permission. You can also insert a fraud alert on your credit report. It sends a message to your creditors about your fraud victim status. You can place a credit freeze without paying a penny in the event of an identity-theft.
Once you place an alert on your credit report, you’ll be able to pull your reports again for free. You can check if the wrong information has been removed from your credit report.
6. Register a legal complaint: Visit the local police station and file a legal complaint with them. You’ll have to take this step to erase the fraudulent items from your report. Inform the police that you’ve been a victim of an identity theft. Once the complaint has been filed, you can show the copies of the paperwork to the concerned authorities.
7. Monitor your credit reports: Your job is not done when the accounts have dropped from your credit report. You have to ensure that the accounts don’t come back to your credit report again. Monitor your credit reports for a couple of months. Keep the copies of your previous credit reports. You’ll need them while checking the information on your new credit report.
Lastly, if all your efforts go in vain and the credit reporting agencies refuse to co-operate with you, then it is time to consult an FCRA expert. They can provide you with legal help. Sometimes, a single letter from an attorney helps to resolve the problem quickly.