Credit request, inquires, & disputes
Requesting a credit report

Credit scores

Disputing an account

Obtaining creditor account information

Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act

Requesting a credit report

You may request a copy of your credit report directly from the credit bureaus. It is advisable to contact the agencies to find out the cost of the report (if you have been denied credit due to adverse credit there is no charge for the report). When you write to request your credit report, include your full name; current address; social security number; work and home telephone numbers and a check for the report.

If you are considering the purchase or refinance of a home it may be best to meet with a loan officer for a pre-qualification or pre-approval. As part of this process the mortgage company will request a credit report. The advantage of a pre-qualification/approval is credit information will be analyzed in the context of the entire loan, thereby considering not only credit but also employment, and downpayment.

Through the pre-qualification/approval process you may request to be informed if there is any derogatory information contained in the credit report. Generally the credit report(s) will be provided directly from the credit reporting agency.

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Credit Scores

Each of the credit repositories produces a statistical model of a credit report's profile that is reduced to a single numerical value between 350 and 875. Each repository produces its own credit score. Each repository's report and credit score is independent of the other agencies' reports and scores. Most consumers will have three credit scores, one from each repository.

The statistical calculations that involve credit scoring are very complex and use many criteria in developing each score. While each agency has slightly different modeling parameters, some of the major areas considered are:

  • Pay habit
  • Judgements, collections, liens
  • Bankruptcy & foreclosure
  • Time since last delinquency
  • Amounts past due
  • Total available credit
  • Total available revolving credit
  • Total outstanding credit
  • Number of new accounts
  • Amount of available credit of new accounts
  • Number of recent inquiries

It is important to note that there is no one single credit score that insures or precludes a loan's approval. Credit scores are one of many factors in the loan approval process and take on different weight depending on the loan type applied for, down payment, income and employment, and collateral considerations.

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Dispute an account

If you have identified an error on your credit report you may dispute the item to have it corrected or removed. Unfortunately disputing an item on your credit report is not a quick process. You will need to write a letter to the agency disputing the item(s) and requesting what action is to be taken (correct or remove). You will need documentation to support the dispute. Types of documentation include a letter from the creditor, residency information (like utility bills), discharge papers, etc. Be sure to include a copy of the credit report highlighting the disputed item(s) with your letter.

It is very important to keep a copy of the letter, the documentation and your original credit report for your records. It is usually best to send the request by certified mail or through a traceable mail service.

Helpful hints in this process include:
  • Get the full name, telephone number and extension of a contact person at the credit reporting agency(ies) you are contacting
  • Keep records of phone conversations and keep copies of all letters.
  • If you are not getting results through your contact ask to speak with the manager and again get that individualís full name, telephone number and extension.

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Obtaining creditor documentation

In disputing a credit account, you will need documentation of the creditor's error for the account you are disputing. This means providing your documentation evidencing the account is in error or contacting the creditor to obtain the documentation to have the disputed account corrected.

By law, creditors are required to provide written verification that the account is in fact your account and the basis for the credit rating is correct. The first step in this process is to find a contact at the creditor to direct a letter requesting written proof of your account. Be sure to keep a copy of your request and send the request by certified mail.

The letter should request written proof of the disputed account be provided to you within 10 business days of receipt of the letter. If the creditor cannot provide written proof that the account is yours or that the credit rating is correct, demand that by the provisions of the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act that the account be corrected with ALL credit reporting agencies. Ask for copies of the creditor's letters to the credit agencies that request the changes to your credit report. (Also note that the creditor may update the information provided to the credit agency by electronic tape. In this event, you will need to request an updated copy of your credit report.)

If you do not receive a response within 10 business days, call your contact at the creditor. If you do not receive a satisfactory response as to the delay, speak to a supervisor or manager. Again, by law the creditor must provide written documentation within 30 days of your request. If the creditor cannot provide written proof of the account, demand that the creditor notify the credit agencies to delete the information.

If you cannot get a response you may wish to contact an attorney for assistance.

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