Enhanced options to dispute errors on your credit report

Knowing your rights can help you keep more money in your pocket.

All consumers are entitled to one free credit report disclosure every 12 months upon request from each nationwide credit reporting bureau. You can order your free annual credit report online at: annualcreditreport.com, by calling 1-877-322-8228 or by completing the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mailing it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

If the information in your credit report is not accurate, a lender or credit card company could say that you qualify, but for a high interest rate when in fact you may actually qualify for a lower rate. In some cases inaccuracies could even lead lenders to turn you down entirely.

The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy, fairness and privacy of information about consumers in the files of credit reporting agencies. One right consumers have is to challenge the accuracy of the information contained in their credit file. Under the FCRA, both the credit reporting company and the information provider (that is, the person, company or organization that provides information about you to a consumer credit reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To take full advantage of your rights under this law, LaShawn Brown, Extension Educator with Michigan State University Extension suggests you contact the credit reporting company and the information provider. Brown says, “You do not need to hire someone to fix your credit report.”

If you identify information in your file that is incomplete or inaccurate and report it to the consumer credit reporting agency, the credit reporting company must investigate the items in question — usually within 30 days — unless they consider your dispute frivolous. Tell the creditor or other information provider, in writing, that you dispute an item. Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. Keep copies of everything you submit.

In February 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported that consumers now have an option to provide supporting documents such as a paid bill, a letter written explaining the issue, a police report or proof of identity information, or other correspondence when you submit a dispute to Experian, TransUnion or Equifax. You can upload, mail or fax any supporting documents you have to explain the errors in your credit report.

The CFPB states that the credit reporting companies must forward your dispute, including all relevant information, to the information provider. If the information provider corrects your information

When the investigation is complete, the credit reporting company must give you a short written response and describe the results which include how your report has changed. If an item is changed or deleted, the credit reporting company cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that it is accurate and complete. The response provided by the credit reporting company must also include notice that says you can request a description of the procedure used to determine the accuracy and completeness of the information, including the business name, address and phone number of the information provider.

For more information, including information about additional rights, visit FTC.gov/credit. If you are wondering about your financial health, take a financial health survey from MI Money Health to get your financial health score! It is confidential and your answers never connect back to your name. This survey can help you evaluate your current financial situation, provide ideas on how you may improve your financial health and connect you to resources in your local community.

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