Elements to Review in a Report
Once you have the report, the next step is to review what you are looking for? What should you focus on? There are three main components of your report.
1. The Section on Personal Information
Your name, your address and your date of birth is the information you will find in this section. These are going to remain on your report unless changed.
2. The Section on Accounts such as auto loans, credit cards
This section will reflect all the accounts you ever had, including whether it will be credit cards, auto loans, collection accounts, or anything that was ever reported to your account.
3. The Section on Inquiries such as Hard inquiries
Hard inquiries are made by a bank or lender who checked your credit card report to verify if you are a candidate for a loan or a line of credit or other such services. Hence if anyone has viewed your report for lending purposes, it will be located in the inquiry section on your report. Hard inquiries are also public records so that anyone can see them.
Bankruptcies also remain on your reports forever. Judgments and tax liens are no longer in your bureau reports in the public records section; however, they are present at other places like LexisNexis, which is also a credit reporting agency.
Negative data will remain on the report for seven to ten years. Whereas collections, charge offs, late pays these are going to stay on the report for seven years from the date of first delinquency. Delinquency means that suppose you had a credit card from Chase, and it was charged, but it went unpaid for a certain period. The first delinquency will be from the period since it went delinquent for the first 30 days. So, seven years from this date, the account will stop reflecting on your report.
Inquiries are on your report for two years, but they are only scored for the first 12 months.
Scan Your Report for Key Elements
An important step is to print your report and highlight the critical areas. Scan the report for any misspelled names, names that you do not use, or are incorrect, or you may not want them to appear on your report. Maybe your first and middle name appears as your last name or vice versa. Or perhaps there is a spelling error. You should highlight if the mentioned name doesn’t belong to you.
Next, scan the report for the wrong addresses. Highlight any addresses that you no longer live at. You just want your current address to remain on your report – get all other addresses deleted.
The bureaus only require your name, your current address, your date of birth, and your social security number. All the other data sitting on your file is of no use to you. It is only of use to bureaus that make money by selling data.
So, try and limit the data that is present in your report. The bureaus only require the most current address you have been living at for the last six months to locate you. All the personal highlights that you have made are going to go in a separate dispute letter that should be addressed to Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.
Scan the Report for accounts
We are going to discuss accounts, collections, and public records in this article. While you are looking at details of your accounts, look for any negative data that might be present. The positive data is not significant here as we want to minimize the impact of negative data. Hence negative data is of utmost importance.
Scan the report for collections, charge offs, or accounts that were late or, in other words, accounts that were reported in the last 24 months.
When you are reviewing “late payments” note carefully if these were reported 30 or 60 days late. Make sure the dates match your timeline. Consider the example of a credit card on, which you went delinquent in June, but as reported on Equifax, you went elinquent in January. Hence you need to report or conflict all these errors.
In the case of collections and charge offs, review the discrepancies closely. Some things to review carefully include the date open, the date of last activity, the date last reported, and outstanding balances. If you identify anything across the board, which is a mismatch, then make a note of it. As per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the items on your report have to be 100% accurate, not 99% accurate, or 99.9% accurate. Therefore, if you know they are 1% shy on the accuracy, you need to report it and get it corrected.
Take The Lead In Investigating Inaccurate Accounts
Some experts might tell you to investigate an inaccurate account, which is not a good argument. You need to take the entire investigation process in your own hands. So, when you send a “dispute letter” to bureaus, and the investigation begins, you have to oversee the entire process and corrections.
Establish the following things while formulating your dispute;
1. What is wrong with the account?
2. What do you want the outcome to be?
3. Write two separate letters. These are identifiers and accounts.
Below is how you draft your letter as an example.
I have reviewed my report, and I found the following information to be inaccurate. I demand this information be corrected. Once your investigation is concluded in the courts, then I am requesting the information to be deleted from my report.
Kindly also send me an updated report after the necessary deletions have been made.
Disputed account Name: Banana Republic Credit Card
Disputed card number: XXXX XXX 7349
Basis of dispute: Collection or Charge-off
Clearly, the information of collection is incorrect and has been misreported. I, therefore, demand this should be deleted from my report. Kindly investigate this account and make the necessary correction.
In the end, sign the letter and mail it to the bureaus. It’s also not necessary to sign the letter as long as you put your name and correct address at the end. In this way, you will see far better results instead of sending a blanket letter asking the bureau to review the accounts and make necessary deletions.
How to Mail the Dispute Letter?
Try to keep the letter up to one page as a longer letter tends to lose its impact. On the second page, attach a copy of your ID and social security card. Do make sure that your “driver’s ID” is fully updated and has your current address on it and then attach a copy of your social security card. Just put all these together in an envelope and mail it to the bureau. If you do not want to go to the post office, then there is a website called LetterStream.com. You can go to this website and upload your letter here.
Since you are sending it to the bureaus, you do not require to send it by certified mail, just send it by first class mail or regular mail. If you mail it through LetterStream.com, you will be required to pay $1 or a little above, depending on the number of pages attached. It will perhaps be 50 or 60 cents more based on the number of attachments.