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Repairing or Improving your credit

"Fix" your credit report from incorrect entries

There are hundreds of scam artists who are anxious to take your money. They run ads promising to erase accurate negative information from your file. Every week, thousands of people with bad credit respond to ads like this. It doesn't work. You pay a fee for their services to fix your credit, nothing changes, and the only one better off is the scam artist.

Rule one of credit repair is that if you have accurate negative information on your file -- such as legitimate unpaid debts and bankruptcies -- there is no legal way to remove it or mitigate its impact on your credit rating.

Be Patient. The only way to improve the situation is to stop building that negative report and waiting it out. That means keeping up to date with your bills. When enough time has expired - typically 7 years- the information will be removed from your file.


What you can do to make sure your credit record is as good as it can be.

First, get a copy of your credit reports from all three national credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian). You are entitled to one free report per year from each agency. Not all creditors report to every agency so your report from each agency is likely to be different in some respects.

These reports include the following:

  • Name and address and social security number
  • Employment information
  • Payment history, showing every account and whether or not you paid on time.
  • Inquiries, listing all creditors who have asked for your credit history in the last year and anyone who has asked for your credit history for employment purposes for the last two years.
  • Public record information, such as bankruptcies, foreclosures and tax liens.

Review all of the entries carefully. Often you will find one or more that are incorrect. Correcting these mistakes will help fix your credit.

The next step is to dispute any incorrect items. Under the law, both the Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) and the original creditor are obliged to correct inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To get them to act, you must tell the CRA in writing what information you believe to be inaccurate. To do this you should make a package that includes:

  1. A copy of the page in the report that contains the incorrect entry.
  2. Copies of any documentation you may have to support your contention that is inaccurate (such as a receipt for payment or a letter from the creditor).
  3. A letter like the one below.

[[Your name]]
[[Your address]]
[[Your city, state and zip code]]
[[Complaint Department]]
[[Name of Credit Reporting Agency]]
[[Address (You should use the address on the free credit report you received. If that does not work, see the list below.)]]


Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. I have circled the item(s) on the enclosed copies of the report you sent me.

The item (identify the item) is inaccurate or incomplete for the following reason(s).
[[List the reason(s)]]

I am requesting that it be removed from my file (or changed) so that my credit report is accurate.

I am enclosing copies of the following documents to support my assertions:

[[list enclosures.]]

Please investigate this matter and report to me as soon as possible.

Thank you,
[[your name and signature]]



If the CRA follows the law, they will check your claim and correct their files.

If you request it they will also notify anyone who has checked your credit in the last six months that your file has been changed. If you do not get a response within 30 days, send the whole package again with a note saying that this is the second time it is being sent, and you are also sending a copy to your state Attorney General's office. In some states (like Massachusetts) the AG's office offers a mediation service to try to settle disputes like this.

If the dispute is not resolved in your favor, file a statement.
If the CRA responds that it does not have enough evidence to support any change in your file, or the original creditor disputes your claims, you have the right to file a 100 word statement that must be appended to your file for all creditors to read.

Once again, create a letter to the CRA, and include a copy of the page containing the item you dispute, all your personal information, and the statement you wish to append.

Such a statement might say:

The only reason that I did not pay this bill is that I believed the charge to be incorrect. I moved from my apartment and canceled my electric service. The company claims I did not cancel and billed me for six months when I did not live in the apartment. I have tried to fix this with them to no avail.

I do not believe I owe this bill because the product was defective and I returned it. The company offered only a merchandise credit. I insisted on a cash refund, which they refused to give me.

-OR -

I paid this bill within 90 days of issue. I was never credited with the payment. I have submitted evidence of payment which they have rejected.

This package should be sent to the same address as the original dispute, certified mail, return receipt requested.


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