Can I Correct My Credit Report Without An Attorney?

21 Oct Can I Correct My Credit Report Without An Attorney?

Very few people have perfect credit. Those with the best credit often pay special attention to what is on their credit report.

You can be meticulous about paying your bills on time, not over spending on your credit cards, and keeping all your financial ducks in a row and still have a bad credit report.

How?

It is because of the mistakes that are made by the companies that report to the credit reporting agencies or by the credit reporting agencies themselves.

The good news is that you can repair your own credit report without a lawyer or one of those “credit repair” companies. Be prepared to have a great deal of patience and persistence.

The first step is to obtain a separate report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You can access all three through annualcreditreport.com.

Next you will want to go through each report very carefully.

There are many things to check for inaccuracies such as:

  • Account status
  • Balances
  • Date of last activity
  • Current and previous addresses
  • Statute of limitations
  • Date of payoffs
  • Any collection agency activity
  • Duplicates
  • Paid and closed accounts shown as still open and active
  • Any old personal information such as past employment history and telephone numbers
  • Wrong social security number
  • Your full name – this should be a no brainer, but you would be surprised how often it is wrong.

This is just a partial list of what to look for. Over 70% of people have found some errors on their credit reports and sometimes, even a small error can negatively effect on your credit.

If you have found any inaccuracies or discrepancies you can file a dispute with the credit reporting agency. To do this you will need to write to the credit bureau and give them all the correct information on the error and ask them to remove the inaccuracy.

You should send your letter by certified mail. The credit bureau then has 30 days to respond to your request.

If, however, in spite of your best efforts the credit reporting agencies continue to report incorrect information then you need to get an experienced consumer protection attorney on your side.  Many lawyers who handle these cases do so on a contingency basis, and others use a sliding scale.  Whatever you do, be sure to document your progress so your lawyer can have all the facts when reviewing your situation.

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Jay S. Fleischman is a bankruptcy lawyer with offices in Los Angeles and New York. He can often be found on Google+ and Twitter, where he shares information about consumer protection issues and personal finance.
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