Consumers often ask me about the best way to dispute errors on their credit reports. Because some Utah credit repair organizations do not protect consumers’ rights, and in some cases actually waive those rights, I recommend consumers hire an experienced credit repair attorney to help. Ambitious consumers can also choose to do it yourself. Here are a few steps needed to repair your own credit.
Utah Credit Repair – Step One
The first step in do it yourself credit repair is to obtain and review your credit reports. There are several ways to order your credit reports but there are some cautions here. Don’t order a three-in-one report. Get individual reports from the individual credit bureaus and do so by mail if possible. Three-in-one reports merge information from each bureau into one report causing numerous discrepancies between the report you receive and the actual reports kept with each credit bureau.
You can get a free annual credit report through www.annualcreditreport.com if mail is too slow for your situation but be cautioned that if there is any chance you will need to sue the credit bureaus, ordering the credit reports online will require you to waive your right to sue the credit bureaus by forcing you to agree to mandatory arbitration of your claims. Arbitration can be a bad idea from a consumer law perspective so if there is any chance at all you will need to sue the credit bureaus, preserve your legal rights and order your reports by mail.
Once you obtain your reports, closely review them for inaccuracies of any kind. Don’t fall into the trap of disputing everything that is negative regardless of accuracy. Ethical credit repair is about correcting inaccurate credit information, not deleting everything negative. If there are inaccuracies you should mark each one and make a quick note of why the information listed is inaccurate. If you have a listing that you are not sure is 100% accurate you certainly have the right to request the credit bureaus verify the data they are reporting so mark that information as an uncertainty for later use.
Utah Credit Repair – Step Two
Your next step in do it yourself credit repair is to create dispute letters challenging the accuracy and completeness of the information listed. This is where most consumers should seriously consider hiring an experienced credit repair attorney. In any event, do not use a form letter you find in the Internet. Instead, write each credit bureau and identify in the letter exactly what information is inaccurate and what you want the credit bureaus to do with the information. In some cases the credit bureaus will delete the information while in other cases they will update and correct it. In some cases the credit bureaus may either stall the process or ignore you altogether but be persistent and don’t get frustrated. If the bureaus stall you, ignore you, or refuse to process your dispute, then it is time to consult a credit repair attorney. The credit bureaus will usually be more responsive to an attorney drafted credit repair dispute letter.
Some consumer advocates will tell you to write credit dispute letters in a threatening tone to intimidate the credit bureaus into deleting your information. That advice is absolute garbage. The credit bureaus are not afraid of you or anything you can do. Threaten them, they don’t care. Sue them, they don’t care. In most small consumer lawsuits, the credit bureaus will win without batting an eye and frankly, even if they lose, they still don’t care. Instead, write the letter politely using plain and simple terms without legal jargon or threats. You will get better results that way.
One caution here is to always be truthful. Lying can get you into legal trouble and will certainly hurt any legal claims you may have against the credit bureaus, creditors, or debt collectors. Lying may also result in the bureaus ignoring or rejecting your disputes. It is always better to be truthful in these situations. The goal in legitimate credit repair is to correct inaccurate information, not to use deception to delete accurate information.
Utah Credit Repair – Step Three
The next step in do it yourself credit repair is to create challenge letters to send to your creditors who are reporting inaccurately. Only send this letter after you send a dispute for the same trade line to the credit bureaus. You want to preserve your right to sue the creditor for falsely reporting and under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you can only do so if you dispute the item with the credit bureaus first.
Challenge letters to your creditors are trickier that other letters. Like the credit bureau dispute letters you want to challenge the inaccurate information and you want to be truthful, but it is critical that you do not make any admissions in these letters. You are simply asking for a specific adjustment, correction, or deletion to occur. If you admit anything or otherwise acknowledge the debt you could reset the applicable statutes of limitations available to the creditors to collect the debt and the admission could be used against you to collect the debt.
This mistake is most commonly made by credit repair organizations and self-proclaimed credit repair experts in online forums and occurs when a credit repair organization sends letters to the creditors requesting so-called “goodwill” adjustments. In doing so, they invariably acknowledge the debt on behalf of the consumer and effectively waive the consumer’s legal rights. The easy way to avoid this issue is to never make any promises, admissions, or acknowledgments in your challenge letters.
Utah Credit Repair – Step Four
Your final step in the do it yourself credit repair process is to simply repeat steps two and three above as needed. Send additional dispute and challenge letters for each inaccurate trade line and carefully track your progress. Be certain you don’t send letters to the same company too often and wait a few months between disputes if possible; time may improve your results. Keep good records of each letter you send and each result you achieve. You may need to order additional credit reports after a few months but in some cases the credit bureaus will send automatic updates when they change information you dispute so be patient.
Utah Credit Repair – Conclusion
The FTC recommends consumers dispute credit bureau inaccuracies without hiring a Utah credit repair organization. In case where consumers are capable of drafting effective dispute letters on their own we agree. Most consumers need help however. Credit repair is filling with tricks, traps, and secrets that an experienced credit attorney can use to get better results.
Do it yourself credit repair can be tricky. To preserve your rights, it is best to order credit reports by mail and don’t admit to anything in your letters. It is also critical to always be truthful in your communications and keep good records. In any event, be patient and diligent and you should be able to get good results. If you have any reservations about do it yourself credit repair, read more of my articles on credit repair and contact us for assistance. We have over ten years of experience in credit repair and we can give you a good road map on how best to approach the credit repair process.