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Credit Bureau (Repository) Contact Information … You Should Write This Down.
P.O. Box 949
Allen, TX 75013
PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
760 West Sproul Road
PO Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
This section will help you learn how to better handle the credit bureaus and their bureaucracies. First of all, don’t get in a hurry; the credit bureaus move slowly. The purpose of this chapter is to highlight your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and help you assert them at the right time and place.
Dealing with Credit Bureaus – Learning the Basics about Credit Bureaus
Credit Bureaus are called “repositories” these are companies that collect and hold data that relates to your credit. The three main credit repositories are, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. They all use a proprietary scoring program that analyzes your credit information and assigns you a score. These credit scoring programs are called “FICO”, which stands for Fair Isaac Company.
The three credit repositories then sell this information to credit reporting companies, banks, car dealers and almost anyone who is in the business of extending credit. They also retail this information to individuals like you in me through their own retail companies all of the other companies that you see selling credit reports online. Each repository has its own retail company that sells their credit reports under a DBA. For example, The guy on TV who sings about his credit being “whack” is promoting Free Credit Report dot com, (freecreditreport.com), this is the retail arm of Experian®.
Free Credit Reports – If business schools were able to roll all of their teachings into one sentence it would be, “there aint no free lunch”. So, how do they get away with advertising “Free Credit Reports”? It’s the oldest trick in the book, the retail arms of the three credit repositories offer credit monitoring services and other products that are designed to help consumers manage their credit files. These services range from $20 – $50 bucks a month. If you sign up for one of these services they will give you a free credit report.
If you cancel the membership in the allotted time you will not be charged for the credit report, thus it is “free”. When you call to cancel the service you can expect to wait on hold for ever and then endure a sales pitch on why you should keep their product. If this is too much trouble for you, I suggest that you pony up the $40 bucks and buy one. If you are serious about repairing their credit, buying a professional credit report from all three credit agencies will give you a clearer and more detailed report to work off of. You can see the top credit report offers online here.
Real Free Annual Credit Reports – You are entitled , by law, to receive one free credit reports from each repository every year. Also if you are denied credit, by law, you are able to see the information that caused the company to deny you credit. You can Find the Website Here.
As you can imagine, the credit repositories aren’t very fond of this law, in fact, they lost a huge lawsuit trying to fight it. The law says they have to disclose to you what is in your credit file. When you visit the web site you will see an online option a by mail option and a by phone option. Quite often they will tell you that you didn’t pass their “security test” and they will have to mail you your copy for the sake of security. Ironically, if you go to their web site that sells you the bureau and enter the same information you can usually get your bureau immediately.
How to Deal with Credit Repositories
Know your Rights – First off, you need to understand that you will be dealing with the credit repositories listed on top of this page, NOT collection companies or credit report retailers when repairing your credit. These credit repositories are governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You should download/print a copy of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and become familiar with it, tThese are the rules that the credit repositories must follow. The rules are set forth to protect consumers and are written in a way that favors consumers and restricts the repositories. The document is pretty “wordy” and filled with legal ease, I have highlighted what I feel are the most important highlights below:
- No one can look at your credit bureau without your permission, period.
- The FCRA says – “If the completeness or accuracy of any item of information contained in a consumer’s file at a consumer reporting agency is disputed by the consumer and the consumer notifies the agency directly of such dispute, the agency shall reinvestigate free of charge and record the current status of the disputed information, or delete the item from the file before the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date on which the agency receives the notice of the dispute from the consumer.”Basically, if you call BS on anything on your credit report the credit repositories have to investigate it and give you an answer within 30 days. If they can’t prove what is being reported about you they must remove the entry on your bureau. If you do not like the result of their investigation, and you can supply additional information about the remark, you can request a re-investigation.
- Derogatory credit entries cannot be reported more than seven years, except bankruptcies, unpaid liens and judgments. Often times collection companies will sell their debts to other agencies that will try to report the same collection on your bureau after the seven years have expired. If this happens to you, simply send a Credit Dispute Letter to the three main credit repositories stating the original debt and they have to remove the new collection.
- If the credit repository deems that your request for an investigation is frivolous they can halt the investigation. Credit repositories are allowed to use their discretion when considering your investigation, the law states that they must have reasonable doubt to remove or not to remove credit entries on your bureau. (This why you should be professional and nice when dealing with credit repositories).
- Anytime that you are denied credit by any company you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report. Again, this will not have scores and will usually take a couple of weeks to come to you by mail.
In closing, you should always send ALL request and correspondence via certified mail with a return receipt. Remember, when you are first contacted by a collection agency, you have 30 days to have the collection agency validate the debt. You can do this by sending a Letter of Validation. This letter requires that the collector prove that you owe the debt and many other details about them and the debt. Most collection agencies will not bother and move on to the next victim.
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