Your credit report is like your biography. It shows where you live, where you’ve lived in the past, when you were born, who you’ve worked for, how well you pay your bills, and a host of other things.

Your credit report is available to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.

Businesses and people make the decision of whether to deal with you based on what they read in your credit report. And if they don’t like what they see, they won’t deal with you. Period.

So if your credit report is inaccurate, you need to take action immediately to protect your rights.

Your rights to a fair and accurate credit report are governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  New York State also has its own version of the law.  Under these powerful laws, information that is inaccurate or incomplete must be corrected – but only if you take the proper steps.

Step One – Dispute The Inaccuracy

If you think something is inaccurate on your credit report, you must dispute the error in writing.  Though not required by law, you should send the letter by certified mail and keep a copy of the letter (and the certified mail receipt) to prove that you sent it.

Your dispute should be as thorough and detailed as possible, written clearly so that the credit reporting agency can read and understand the problem.  Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each item in your report you dispute, state the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and request that it be removed or corrected.

Step Two – Wait For The Results

Consumer reporting companies must investigate all disputes and forward all the relevant data you provide about the inaccuracy to the company that provided the information. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the consumer reporting company, it must investigate and report the results back to the consumer reporting company.

When the investigation is complete (it will usually take 30 days), the consumer reporting company must give you the results in writing and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change.

Step Three – Enforce Your Rights

If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the consumer reporting company, you have the right to sue for damages, legal fees and court costs.

If you are a resident of either New York or California, you can contact me for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation to review your situation and learn more about how I can help.