Disclaimer: I am not being sponsored or endorsed by, and am in no way affiliated with any brands or products mentioned in this blog. The opinions and conclusions of such are my own and are as a result of my unsolicited use of said products and brands.
In my last post, we briefly discussed two key elements or laws of the Fair Credit Reporting Act that benefit you, the consumer.
First and foremost, the credit bureaus are responsible for verifying that the information they receive from banks and other creditors about you is true and correct. In fact, they are required by law to maintain a copy on file of your signed contract or credit application. The simple fact is that they don’t have it. Your information is plucked right out of your application and sent electronically to the credit reporting agency in large batches, along with other consumers’ information. It’s just more efficient that way.
Second, you have the right to your personal information from your credit file upon written request and proper identification verification, which by law is your driver’s license and Social Security number.
In this post, I’m going to tell you exactly what to do to get started cleaning up your credit report.
You need to obtain your credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, and start going over them with a highlighter to determine which accounts need to be removed.
As it had been a while since I’d pulled my reports, I was easily able to go to www.annualcreditreport.com, and pull all of them easily in electronic format for free.
When you’ve determined which accounts you will be removing, you will write a letter to each credit bureau, detailing that you are a consumer who is aware of the law (chances are, whoever opens your letter and reads it is completely unaware of the laws in the Fair Credit Reporting Act), and that you are requesting the copies of the contracts bearing your signature that they are required to keep on file for each of the derogatory accounts you are inquiring about. You will detail each account in your letter by name and account number. This part of the letter will be done by hand, as well as your personal information such as birth date, social security number and credit report number (which you will find on your credit reports). The rest of your letter can be typed. A template of the letter with what you need to say is provided here.
NOTE: PLEASE READ ALL OF THE POSTS RELATED TO THIS CREDIT VERIFICATION PROJECT BEFORE YOU SEND OUT YOUR LETTERS. NEGLECTING EVEN THE SLIGHTEST DETAIL CAN IMPEDE THE GOOD RESULTS YOU WILL GET FROM SENDING THESE LETTERS.
Once you’ve done this for all three of the credit reporting agencies, you will mail your letters, one at a time, several days apart. YOU MUST SEND THE LETTERS CERTIFIED MAIL BY THE USPS!! This is very important. It costs very little to do this. For all three letters, the postage for certified mail amounted to less than $12.00.
After you have mailed the letters it’s mostly a waiting game until you get your first responses. To help pass the time, I downloaded the Credit Karma app to my Android phone and checked weekly to see what changes had been made to my credit, including the score. As the credit bureaus take their allotted 30 days to respond, it was encouraging to me to see the changes updated weekly via the Credit Karma app. Additionally, the information pulled weekly from Credit Karma are considered “soft” pulls and therefore do not negatively affect your credit score.
Some who have tried this 609 verification method have been fortunate enough to get everything removed in one round of letters. I, however, was not so fortunate. Trans Union seemed to be the biggest hold out, and as I will detail later, I had to actually write three rounds of letters to them before they finally removed all of my negative items.
It is strongly advised that during the 1 to 4 months it may take you to get the negative items off of your credit record; that you do not open up any new credit accounts, such as loans or credit cards.
If you have read all of the posts regarding this project (all found under the “609 Credit Verification Experiment Project” category to your right) and are ready to move on to the next step, click here!