I suggest you obtain a copy of your consumer report (1) anytime you are denied credit, favorable credit terms, employment or insurance; and (2) no less than once per year.
No need to buy expensive services. You can request a free copy of your credit reports from the "big 3" once per year by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. I highly encourage you to request a copy of your report through the mail (as opposed to electronically or by phone). Complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348aEUR'5281.
Note, while Experian, Equifax and Trans Union are the "big 3," many other consumer reporting agencies exist. If you are ever denied credit or employment, you should receive a notice telling you where the adverse information was gathered that resulted in the denial. You should dispute to that agency also.
Upon receipt, if inaccurate information is found, you should send a written dispute.
Dispute and Document
If there is inaccurate information on one or more of your reports, it's important that you dispute that information with the reporting agency, and document everything that you send. It is also helpful to send a copy of the dispute to the creditor furnishing the false or outdated information about you.
Send everything certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep detailed records of everything that you send, including the mailing receipts. Also, keep copies of any adverse action notices and/or credit denial that you receive as a result of the false credit reporting. This documentation should be included in dispute letter also.
As previously mentioned, keep copies of everything. This includes copies of all letters that you send, including attachments or enclosures.
Additionally, as the dispute process ensues, keep a timeline and tabulation of all of the steps that you take to correct the erroneous/outdated information. For example, note all telephone calls that you make, including the date, time, caller, recipient, and substance of your discussion. The more detail that you record, the better positioned you will be.
Also, keep track of all of the expenses that you incur in pursuit of restoring your good name.
Contact an Attorney
If after providing a detailed dispute to the respective credit reporting agencies the information is not removed or corrected, you should consider contacting an attorney familiar with credit reporting issues. In some cases, legal action is necessary. If you are forced to do so, you may be entitled to money damages for the losses that you incur.
Additional resources provided by the author
For additional information, sample forms and valuable resources, please visit the links below.