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Protecting Your Credit Rights

Examine your credit report every three to six months.

A credit report will generally cost about $15 each. There are three main credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, but 90% of the information they have is common.  A mortgage lender typically orders all three reports.

When you first receive your credit reports, you may find them difficult to read. We design the credit reports we provide to make them easy to interpret.  Also, you can refer to our guide to interpret the codes on the credit report. Study the credit report until you understand what each code means. You must monitor your credit report regularly to prevent the appearance of bad credit. This can come from fraud, or human error at the credit bureaus or creditors when entering the data. The information on a credit report from another vendor may be coded in a way that is not immediately readable by the average consumer. For a sample of what that may look like and explanation of the terms used on a typical credit report, you can order your credit report online or by mail.

You can also have your credit report monitored by a major credit reporting agency, with free weekly updates of any changes.

Dispute credit report listings which you feel are unfair or inaccurate with the credit bureau.

You can dispute any item in writing. The credit reporting agencies are required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act to confirm the validity of the listing, or must remove it.  However, the credit bureaus still have some loopholes to escape their responsibilities if you don't compose your dispute properly, including the determination that your dispute is technically "frivolous or irrelevant."

After you've analyzed your reports and marked every negative listing, you may begin to draft your dispute letter. Do not use "form-type" dispute letters as they will be quickly spotted and rejected by the credit bureaus as "frivolous or irrelevant." Instead, follow these general strategies:

The addresses of the 3 major agencies are:

EQUIFAX, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374;

EXPERIAN (formerly TRW), P.O. Box 949, Allen, TX 75013-0949;

TRANS UNION, P.O. Box 290, Springfield, PA 19064-0390;

Dispute the listing with the creditor who reported it.

Under the FCRA, (Fair Credit Reporting Act) the creditor is responsible to adhere to proper procedure in verifying consumer disputes You should take your challenge to the creditor by writing letters directly to that creditor. If you still owe money on the credit item in question, it is sometimes possible to use a technique known as "debt settlement" to reduce your payoff AND to accomplish the removal of the negative listing. Debt Settlement requires that you or your attorney negotiate with the creditor to take a lesser amount and agree to show the debt as paid.

The best way to have great credit is to pay your bills on time.

Be honest. Would you want to lend your money to someone with a proven record of not paying back other people?

Scams's article about your credit report rights.

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