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The Most Effective Credit Dispute Letter

Ali Zane is a credit repair expert, advocate, and author with nearly 20 years experience getting positive results for his credit repair clients.
effective credit dispute letter

This blog post is for the people who cannot afford my paid credit repair services in Los Angeles and don’t mind going through the trouble of repairing it themselves.

For them, I’ve distilled my 15 years of experience of fixing credit scores into an advanced method credit bureau dispute letter with specific instructions on how to utilize it.

Because let’s face it, trying to remove a 30-day late payment or repair your credit yourself can get overwhelming and confusing:
— It’s hard to figure out how to dispute correctly
— Credit Bureaus may disregard your disputes
— Creditors keep on verifying your challenges

And if you’ve hired a credit repair company or so-called “law firm” like Lexington, chances are:
— you’ve wasted $1000+ without results in upfront fees
— they put in ineffective credit bureau disputes and goodwill requests
— you find yourself at the same place where you started

Are you still committed to learning how to do this? Good. It will take attention to detail, but if you have the time to learn, this will pay off.

Here’s what you need to know: The Fair Credit Reporting Act’s (FCRA) Section 611 allows for consumers to challenge questionable items on their credit reports. So you have a right to dispute information that you believe to be incorrect.

This includes late payments charge-offs, collections, tax liens, bankruptcies, judgments, foreclosures, or any personal identification information.

What this means is, virtually any “questionable” negative or inaccurate information the credit bureaus (also known as credit reporting agencies) have for you can be disputed and their deletion may result in a credit score increase.
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Proof this letter works, Check out these results I’ve got for my clients!

These are actual confirmation letters from credit bureaus confirming removal of accounts:

Experian Dispute Results Letter
Equifax Fraud Charges Deleted Letter

Want more proof?
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and check out my Yelp reviews.
Now, let’s start with the basics.

How to dispute accounts relating to Identity Theft and Fraud

This is important..
If you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, where someone has been fraudulently using your name to apply for and obtain accounts, then the dispute process to repair your credit is different.

You will need to implement this special identity theft victim procedure, which includes filling out a sworn Identity Theft Affidavit at the Federal Trade Commission website along with a declaration you’re a fraud victim.

Otherwise, keep reading…

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How to dispute accounts with credit bureaus: Phone, Mail, Online or Fax?

Most consumers dispute accounts by phone or online.
This is a huge mistake!

The three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and Transunion, allow you to pull a free credit report directly from their websites every 12 months, or from annualcreditreport.com, or through sites like CreditKarma.

Those reports will provide you with a link to dispute online and a phone number for the credit bureau’s customer service dispute center. (Learn more about how to contact credit bureaus here)

Phone and online disputes, although maybe the simplest ways to dispute. Any serious credit repair expert will tell you never to use this method.

Why? Consumers are at a disadvantage every time they do this.

Firstly, the credit bureaus make consumers agree to innocuous-sounding waivers, which in fact make clients give up their rights to re-investigation.

Second, without a proper paper trail, the credit bureaus do not have to fear the threat of lawsuits. So the bureaus can take online and phone disputes less seriously.

This means less thoroughly investigated disputes that lead to items not being deleted from the credit report.
So using an actual credit dispute letter and mailing or faxing will serve you much better.

Watch this video to understand your state and federal rights, and how to utilize them to protect yourself and repair your credit:

Common mistakes to avoid with credit dispute letters

So over the years, I’ve seen clients of mine make errors that end up hurting their chances for deletion.

Here are ways to avoid these mistakes:
A) You shouldn’t threaten legal action of any kind unless you have reason to do so.
B) Do not dispute any positive items on your credit report, once removed they cannot be re-inserted.
C) Do not dispute any inquiries linked to accounts you’ve legitimately opened, your inquiry dispute will be forwarded to the creditor, who may close the account fearing fraud.
D) Make sure to include entire account numbers if the same creditor is reporting multiple accounts. You do not want the wrong account disputed and deleted.

What accounts you should never challenge with credit bureaus

I absolutely cannot stress this enough; When trying to repair your credit, DO NOT dispute any legitimate debts that fell behind recently, which you cannot afford to pay off.

Here’s why – Creditors can legally sue consumers within the statute of limitations they are allowed by the state the debtor resides in.

So, check the statute of limitation for debts in your states before disputing any large unpaid accounts.
For example in California, the statute of limitations for debts is 4 years.

Here’s what this means:
If you live in California, creditors can sue you for up to 4 years from the time you defaulted on a debt
Disputing accounts that lie within the statute of limitations may incite the creditor to take legal action against you.

This, however, does not pertain to items that are resulting from identity theft.

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What accounts you can remove with the credit report dispute letter

You can dispute the following items:

Credit account-related Disputes: Charge-offs, late payments, missed payments, collections, repossessions, student loans, installment loans, auto loans, mortgage foreclosures. Virtually any account that is reporting on your credit file.

Public records: These include, IRS tax liens, state tax liens, judgments, and bankruptcies.

Credit Inquiries: Requests for your personal credit report, aka credit inquiries, are recorded by the credit bureaus and kept on record for 2 years. You can dispute credit inquiries that are questionable and improve your credit scores by getting them deleted.

Personal information: You can dispute to get removed or have the bureaus update all your personal information including your name, current address and previous addresses, your phone number, your employment information, your date of birth, and SSN#.

How to dispute recent late payments and recent collections

Something you must know – Any valid or recent collection, or recent late payments, cannot be removed from your credit report with a credit bureau dispute letter.

How to remove these:

Recent late payments: For recent late payments within the last 2 years or on open accounts, the only way to get these expunged is by utilizing the direct creditor dispute method. For older late payments, the credit bureau dispute letter would work.

Recent collection accounts: For recent collection accounts, which fell behind within the last 4 years that are valid, the most effective way to get these expunged is to utilize the pay for delete method, where you offer to settle the account in exchange for deletion from your credit report.

Older collection accounts: Or for re-aged collection accounts, you’ll need a debt validation letter, where you challenge the debt with the debt collector first.

After the collection company receives your letter, only then should you send out a credit bureau dispute letter. This way the collector is being asked for verifications on two fronts, by you directly and from the bureaus as well.

The credit dispute letter template

Here is a free dispute letter sample that works:

Full Name

Mailing Address:

Date of Birth

{If Sending to Experian: P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013}

{If Sending to Equifax: P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256}

{If Sending to Transunion: Consumer Disputes, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016}

{Date}

RE: Investigation Request to Delete Credit Inquires

To whom it may concern,

In accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act Section 611 (15 U.S.C. § 1681I), I am practicing my right to challenge questionable information that I have found on my personal credit report. I do not recognize the information listed below and request that you investigate the source of these accounts and ascertain that the creditor had a permissible purpose, and is able to verify my complete file information including full name, address, date of birth and SSN#.

INCORRECT ACCOUNT INFORMATION
The accounts below are reporting incorrectly please investigate these:
1. {Creditor Name} {ac#} {Reason for Dispute}
2. {Creditor Name} {ac#} {Reason for Dispute}
3. {Creditor Name} {ac#} {Reason for Dispute}

INCORRECT CREDIT INQUIRIES
I am disputing the following inquiries which I did not authorize:
1. {Creditor Name} {inquiry date}
2. {Creditor Name} {inquiry date}

REMOVE INCORRECT PERSONAL INFORMATION
I am disputing the following personal information that is showing for me which is incorrect:
1. Incorrect SSN {xxx-xx-xx xx }
2. Incorrect Address { insert address}
3. Incorrect Name Variations { Insert name}

UPDATE PERSONAL INFORMATION
Also please update the following information which I saw your credit bureau to be missing or incomplete:
1. Personal current address {insert correct address}
2. My proper full { insert your correct full name, if the bureau has listed it incorrectly}
3. My date of birth { insert date of birth, if bureau has it listed incorrectly}
4. My current employment info { insert employer name, address and your position, if the bureau is missing this info}

I am allowing you 30 days to complete this investigation after which I authorize you to mail me my updated credit reports along with the investigation results

Truly,

{Name}

{Signature}

How to write a credit dispute letter

STEP 1: Identify yourself

Fill in your personal identification information, current address, date of birth, and SSN.

STEP 2: Choose items to dispute

List the erroneous personal identification information you are disputing along with a list of the questionable accounts and inquiries.

For each account, list the creditor name and the account number, along with the reason for your dispute.

STEP 3: Choose a reason for disputing each item

The Account does not belong to me. The account payment history is incorrect.

The account is too old to be on the credit report. The account was paid prior to collection. Incorrect amount. Incorrect last payment date. Incorrect Status. The account belongs to someone else with a similar name.

Virtually any questionable aspect of an account can be deleted

STEP 4: What to enclose with the Credit Bureau Dispute Letter

–Photo ID: This could be any state or government-issued identification

–Proof of Residency: This could be a recent utility bill, or bank statement, mortgage statement, or a copy of your home rental agreement. It should show your name and current mailing address.

— Proof of SSN#: This could be any state or government document showing your SSN#. Or a page from your tax return, W-2, paystub, or 1099, etc.

Any Supporting Documentation: This could include anything that could support your dispute claim, like a letter of deletion from the creditor.

STEP 5: How to Mail:

These letters should be mailed out via certified mail with “return receipt requested” and always save the green receipt from your records.

STEP 6: Wait for 30 Days for the Dispute Completion:

Within 30 days after receipt of the letters by the bureaus, you should receive the investigation results from them.

SIMILAR READ: How to Remove Charge-Offs from a Credit Report

The results will show what accounts were disputed and whether they were deleted, updated with new information, or remain unchanged. Learn more about how to remove dispute comments.

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What to do if the credit bureaus do not correct your credit report

Sometimes the bureaus won’t send you the investigation results, as they may deem your identification information incomplete.

Regardless, they are required to investigate the items you requested.

So, here’s what you do:

Pull your updated credit report after about 35 days from the time you mailed out the dispute letters.

Then check on each bureau if there have been any deletions or any accounts showing they are “under re-investigation.”

These two indicators should let you know if the bureaus actually investigated your claim or not.

If you find no such indicators, refer back to your certified mail tracking information and confirm the bureaus received the letters.

If the letters were received, then you can move to lodge complaints against the bureaus, as discussed below.

>How to file regulatory complaints against the bureaus and creditors

In the event that the bureaus do not investigate or correct your credit report,

Then you take more extreme measures…

You lodge a regulatory complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at www.consumerfinance.gov.

What’s great about the CFPB is, you can also lodge complaints against creditors and collection companies here.

The CFPB forwards these complaints to the party you lodge a complaint, who must respond back to the CFPB within 30 days with a resolution.

They also collects data on the number of complaints filed against each institution and may take regulatory action against them if they notice a pattern of violations.

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Using the Section 604 dispute letter/ Method of Verification Letter

Now if the CFPB compliant doesn’t do the trick

Here’s what you do then:

You exercise your right under the FCRA Section 609 and Section 604 to request a method of verification.

Through another important tool known as the section 609 dispute letter or section 604 dispute letter, both dispute letters are similar.

This is how it works – you’re asking the creditors to provide you with details pertaining to how and with whom they verified the information you disputed.

The Sample Method of Verification letter

All you’ll need to do is just adjust the first credit bureau dispute letter you sent them and put in the following text:

I sent your company my dispute on {Date}, which you received and investigated on. I have reason to believe that you conducted a reasonable investigation. therefore, I am invoking the Fair Credit Reporting Act Section 611 to ask that you provide me with the following information:

1. The date you contacted the creditor
2. The contact information for the creditor
3. The name of the person who verified the item to you
4. The method of communication you used to verify this information
5. Did the creditor provide you with my SSN, address, and Date of Birth?

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