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609 Credit Verification Experiment Project Step 3: Round 2! Follow-Up Responses

by Colleen ElizabethTags: , , , , , , , Categories: 609 Credit Verification Experiment Project,Personal Finance

Disclaimer:  I am not being paid or sponsored by, and am in no way affiliated with any brands or products mentioned in this blog post.  The opinions and conclusions of such are my own and are as a result of my unsolicited use of said products and brands.

About a month after mailing out your initial credit verification letters to the three main credit bureaus, you will start getting your responses.  Each response will likely be a multipage document letting you know that an investigation has taken place and that the pages attached detail the results of that investigation.

Following are the results I personally experienced from each of the credit agencies.

  • TransUnion: As I mentioned in a previous post, TransUnion was the most stubborn of all the three agencies.  Their response was a multipage letter/report stating that an investigation had been opened per my request per each adverse item I had inquired about (Note that the letters I sent are NOT a request to investigate but rather, a demand to provide physical verification in the form of signed contract), followed by a detailed report of each item and the outcome of each investigation with updated status.  My first inquiry or letter resulted in NO deleted items and a whole lot of disappointment.  I immediately started doubting the effectiveness of this whole process.  A little over a week later, however, I was encouraged by the receipt of a response from Equifax:
  • Equifax: This agency was by far the easiest to deal with.  Only 2 weeks after sending in my first 609 credit verification letter, I was able to log onto Credit Karma and see that my score had gone up more than 43 points, and that there were some pending changes to the adverse items I had inquired about.  A month and a half after I had send in my first letter, I finally got back a response in the form of a detailed report of each item, and the results of their investigation.  Again, although I had not requested an investigation take place, one had been opened.  As expected, no physical verification was included in the report, but the good news is that approximately half of the items I inquired about were deleted.  The rest of the items came back as “We verified this item belongs to you.”  I was pleased that there was some progress, but I still had more work to do.
  • Experian: Experian seemed to be a mixed bag.  Their response was well over the 30‑day period allotted by law and of the 11 or 12 adverse items I inquired about, only 2 were actually deleted.  The rest were labeled as “Updated” with a notation that I was disputing the accounts.  I didn’t get real results until Round 2 of the 609 credit verification letters.

ROUND 2

I immediately set out writing my responses to all three credit agencies.  As you will see in the 609 credit verification letter No. 2, I addressed the fact that the agencies incorrectly assumed I was disputing the items and that I was still waiting on physical proof that I had entered into contracts with these companies.  I also addressed the fact that they claimed some of the items were “verified” as mine and asked them who specifically verified the items and how.  Additionally, I reiterated by basis for writing in the first place, referenced the law and demanded again that I wanted to see proof, and that I would seriously consider a lawsuit should my demands not be met.  I included a photocopy of the report they sent me, as well as a reference to the certified mail receipt from my initial letter with the date they signed for it to prevent the agency from claiming they ever received a letter in the first place.  Additionally, I took a highlighter and emphasized all points in the letter that I wanted the bureaus to take note of, especially the laws and the fact that I was demanding physical proof of a contract.

I sent each letter immediately upon receipt of the agency responses, thereby keeping with the staggered schedule.  The responses to this second letter were quicker in coming than the first round and looking back, I think that might have had something to do with the widespread snow storms we were experiencing earlier in the year.  The results were more a bit more encouraging and were as follows:

  • TransUnion: Still a bit stubborn, they deleted several of my items, but there were about 4 they simply addressed as “verified” and “updated”.  I could see no pattern, as their choice of accounts to delete seemed rather random.  My score through TransUnion did go up 27 points.
  • Equifax: They pretty much deleted all but one adverse item.  I don’t understand the rhyme or reason to it, but I have one negative item remaining on my Equifax credit score.  They didn’t even send me a response to my 2nd letter, they just deleted all but one of the items.  The one remaining item left is a collection account for an old cellular phone I had and it’s about to fall off anyway due to its age.  I’m not even going to sweat it.  My score jumped up another 49 points.
  • Experian: Less than 30 days after sending in Letter No. 2, I received a response that Experian deleted all but 2 negative items on my account.  That’s 9 more deletions.  I don’t really know what my score through them is, but judging from the effects the deletions of negative accounts has had in the other two credit agencies, I’m sure it’s substantial.

So that’s where things stand for me as far as my 609 credit verification experiment.  I recently sent out Letter No. 3 to TransUnion and Experian in an attempt to get those remaining negative items off my credit report, and am awaiting responses.  Letter 3, as you will see, is pretty much a repeat of Letter 2, with a reminder of the law and the possible outcome of a lawsuit if the agencies don’t comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act by either providing physical verification of the credit accounts in question, or deleting them.  I will be sure to update you as to the outcome of those letters.

My takeaway from this whole experiment thus far is that it does work, it’s just a lot of tedious work and you really need to keep organized.  I have files on each of the credit agencies in which I keep copies of the letters I send, responses received from the agencies, and the certified mail receipts for the letters I mail.  I document EVERYTHING, including the date I receive responses from the credit bureaus.  It doesn’t look like I will have to make good on my threat to file suit, but if for some reason I did go in that direction, having everything documented would really help my case.

Do you think you want to try this on your own credit profile?  As promised, here is the link to download the letters in PDF format for you to send to the agencies, along with the agency addresses.  I hope things work out for you!


609 Credit Verification Experiment Project Step 2: Examine your credit report and start asking questions

by Colleen ElizabethTags: , , , , , , , , Categories: 609 Credit Verification Experiment Project,Personal Finance

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!


609 CREDIT VERIFICATION EXPERIMENT PROJECT STEP 1: UNDERSTAND THE LAW

by Colleen ElizabethTags: , , , , , , , Categories: 609 Credit Verification Experiment Project,Personal Finance

In my previous post, I summarized the little-known method of removing derogatory credit items from your credit report using the verification inquiries based on laws in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Many people on the internet charging a fee for this information refer to this method as “609 Credit Verification” or “609 Credit dispute.”  The name is only partially accurate, but that doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you know why you’re doing what you’re about to do.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act dictates that the credit reporting agencies are to verify all information received from creditors before they put it in your credit file.  The law recognizes proper verification as a contract or application with your signature on it.  When was the last time you actually signed a credit card application?

This law was practical when it was written, as facsimile machines were the technology of the time, and the banks no longer had to snail-mail copies of the contracts into the agencies.  But with the increased use of the internet and electronic data filing, it just became more efficient to use software that electronically pulls your information from the bank database and sends it electronically over to the credit agencies, which they then place into your credit file for all potential creditors to see.  They do this with NO actual verification that you even signed a contract or application!  They are breaking the law!

Additionally, you need to understand that the Fair Credit Reporting Act also states that you have the right to know the information in your credit file pertaining to you, the consumer (not your creditors), but you can only have the right to this information if your request is made in writing and if you can properly verify your identity with a driver’s license and Social Security card.

If you understand these two key points of the law, you can easily get started removing derogatory marks from your credit report and raise your credit score!  Are you ready to begin?  Then let’s get started!


Single Pallet Wine Rack

by Colleen ElizabethTags: , , Categories: DIY

After months of stagnation on the organizational front, I’ve finally managed to take another step forward!

Behold my husband’s latest single-pallet creation – The Wine Rack!

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Granted, it’s simply a variation on the wine rack designs already circulating through Pinterest, but I really found other designs wanting in size and character.

After weeks of constantly bashing the door into the stack of pallets my husband had collected and stored in our tiny laundry room, we decided it was probably time to do something with them.

I had initially purposed a beautiful dark wood entertainment center for conversion into a full bar, but after determining that the piece is simply too large for our dining room, I had to find another place to store our wine and liquor, as we are slim on kitchen storage space and I was getting tired of seeing our battered bottle-filled cardboard boxes beneath a table in the kitchen.

The construction of this rack is fairly simple, as evidenced by the fact that my husband managed to crank out a couple extra to give as gifts, resulting in three wine racks in one week, all in the limited spare hours surrounding his full-time job.

I specifically requested the inclusion of hooks for bottle opener and wine charms and had I more patience, I would have taken the time to find some vintage decorative hardware for these elements.  As it happened, I was too eager to wait and am completely content with the oiled bronze hooks I found at my local hardware store.

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In addition to the red mahogany stain by Minwax, I’m loving the script chalked onto the rack with my white chalk pens. I think the piece goes well in my green and wine themed dining room.

Now I just need to design a matching rack for my liquor and rock glasses!

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One-Pallet Wonder – Spice Rack

by Colleen ElizabethTags: , , , , , , , , Categories: DIY

I think I could probably function optimally if I had the luxury of hibernating all year long, awaking only for the fall season. Is that so insane? Or better yet, if three seasons out of the year were autumn-like, breaking for one month for a glorious snowy winter. I know there are too many obstacles to the practicality of this scenario, such as the obvious need for the spring and summer seasons to bring forth the beautiful leaves that eventually don their gold and scarlet hues, but a girl can dream, right?

What I’m saying, in a very verbose way, is that I feel so much more productive right now than any other time of the year. I’m still keeping on track with my weight loss journey, but I feel less obsessive about documenting it right now because I’ve got much more interesting ideas and projects on my brain. I’m getting organized too, which is really helpful to me when it comes to weight loss.

One of the organizational projects I’ve been working on is my kitchen. We’re renting, which has been really great, as we’ve been fortunate enough to have the most awesome landlord anyone could ask for. But as any renter knows, renting customarily severely limits your options when it comes to remodeling. In our case, the pink-and-blue flowered 1980’s styled wallpaper and giant white porcelain cabinet knobs were too much to bear and our landlord wholeheartedly supported our efforts to strip and paint the kitchen walls, and to replace the cabinet hardware with something less dated, like simple brushed nickel.

I have a lot of cookware and kitchen appliances and limited space; and if I’m honest, I’ve let quite a few of our kitchen cabinets become overrun with junk in the past 8 years that we’ve lived here. A perfect example is my “spice” cupboard, which very quickly became a spice-medicine-vitamins-and-any-other-junk-I could-shove-in-there cabinet. Yeah, it got really bad. After months of poring over Pinterest pins, I became obsessed with the idea of an organized spice rack made from pallet wood.

After securing a nice rough pallet from a friend, I proceeded to spend 3 months arguing with my husband over how to proceed. I could not find plans for a spice rack that suited me. I do a lot of cooking and baking and possess a wide variety of exotic spices, and as my goal was to completely clean out that darned cabinet, it was imperative that my rack be large enough to house my collection. Additionally – and this is where the arguing with my DH came in – it was my goal that the rack be made solely of the material from the one pallet.

Well, my babe came through for me. After roughing out a 3D model of his plans, he set to work prying apart and rearranging boards. As the pallet was a bit rough (which I personally loved), I decided on a distressed whitewashed finish, which goes along nicely with the look of my kitchen. I didn’t think to get a before shot of the pallet, but here is a shot of the shelf whilst being whitewashed.

rack

After being anchored to the wall, I transferred my spices to some tiny adorable glass canisters that I found on Amazon and labeled them with chalkboard stickers. I think the end result was really adorable (Actually, I think I’m going to touch up the paint in some areas yet). Also, I found some cute vintage fleur-de-lis hooks that I think I’m going to attach to the bottom to hang some measuring spoons and pot holders.

In addition to feeling better about my organized spices, I now have an entire cabinet that I can now dedicate to tea cups and coffee mugs for enjoying hot beverages on these cool fall evenings. It’s a win-win!!

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