Credit Report Disputes
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, Social Security Number, or other personal identifying information without your authority to commit fraud. Identity theft can severely damage your credit profile when the identity thief runs up bills in your name and defrauded creditors report those unpaid debts as yours!
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you powerful rights to recover your good name and to obtain significant damages caused in part by complicit creditors and credit reporting agencies.
If you believe that you are the victim of Identity Theft:
- Request your free credit report. The FCRA requires the consumer reporting agencies to provide you a free copy of your credit report. You should request a separate report from each of the “Big 3” agencies. Call them and tell them (a) “I believe that I am the victim of Fraud” and (b) “Please send me a free copy of my credit report.*
- Equifax: Call (800) 525-6285
- TransUnion: Call (800) 680-7289
- Experian: Call (888) 397-3742
All consumers – whether or not a victim of fraud – are entitled to one free credit report per year from each agency. Request that report at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Inspect your report for inaccurate information. Accounts that do not belong to you. “Inquiries” or requests for your report made for creditors you do not recognize. Variations on your name or a different address that do not apply to you. These may all indicate that you are the victim of fraud.
- You have the right to file a police report. With a police report, you can contact the credit reporting agencies to:
- Insist that a 7-year fraud alert and a credit freeze be placed in your credit report to prevent its use without your permission.
- Have inaccurate or fraudulent information blocked from your credit report.
- Have any inaccurate accounts or information removed from your credit report. This includes any collection actions or inquiries.
How Should You Dispute Inaccurate Credit Information?
Write a detailed letter to each credit-reporting agency that explains the dispute, provides all information (including documentation, names and addresses of witnesses, and a full history of the problem). Send it certified mail to:
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, Pennsylvania 19022
Equifax Information Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, Georgia 30374
Experian Information Solutions, Inc.
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, Texas 75013
The credit reporting agencies have 30 days to respond.
Protect Your Right to an Accurate Credit Profile
What happens if you have properly disputed a debt in writing with a CRA and the creditor continues to verify the debt as yours?
CRAs and furnishers who fail to comply with these FCRA requirements by conducting an unreasonable investigation of your dispute can be sued by a consumer for damages in federal court including the consumer’s court costs and reasonable attorney fees.
The FCRA is designed to protect the privacy of consumer report information and to guarantee that the information supplied by consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) is as accurate as possible.