TL;DR: Credit agencies are all about money and don’t care about the law. They suck. Get ’em back by learning about some laws written to protect you, the consumer, and take some action. Oh, and it’s free. Doesn’t cost anything but time and a little postage.
For a long time, attempting to raise my credit score has been a losing battle. Poor choices and impulse buys finally caught up with me about the time my family hit a rough patch financially. As anyone who’s found themselves suddenly short on income and low in savings can tell you, the lack of digits in your credit score can seriously affect the ease with which one can sail through such unexpected circumstances.
While it seems counterproductive to make it nearly impossible for those with a low credit score to obtain credit cards, car loans, mortgages, employment or any other fundamental necessity for comfortable living here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., such is the way of things here, and maintaining clean credit really can make all the difference between struggling and thriving. As one blogger aptly said it, “A person with poor credit is treated as a second-class citizen.” Amen, brother.
Admittedly I know very little beyond the basics of credit. Keeping credit card expense to a minimum and on‑time bill payment are pretty much the extent of my knowledge; but I have learned through experience that once caught in a cyclone of over-the-limit fees, late penalties and high interest, the damage is done, and the conventional road to recovery takes sacrifice, time, patience and let’s face it – humility. But I’ve never been conventional. I’m a naturally optimistic person. I’m disorganized, I tend to procrastinate, I get bored easily and often lose focus, but I’m always able to pull myself out of a tailspin and start battling. I’m a real Sue Heck. (High fives to you if you get the reference.) With that in mind, let’s talk about the real purpose of this post.
609 Credit Dispute
Have you heard of the 609 Credit Dispute or Credit Fix for your credit score? I ran across it while looking for advice pertaining to raising my credit score and was instantly intrigued. “Dispute” is really a misnomer, as it’s merely a reference to a law in the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In part, the law states that a consumer (you or I) have the right to see our credit files if we can appropriately identify ourselves (driver’s license and Social Security number) and that there are two ways to get information removed from a credit file: 1) If it can be proven incorrect or if it’s outdated (based on terms in §605); and 2) If the information cannot be verified [emphasis mine] (More on this aspect in a future post.
Now we’ve all been told that it’s a good idea to occasionally sweep through our credit files and correct old or outdated information, and that is really sound advice. But what about the information verification aspect? That’s kind of a vague statement. And seriously, have you ever tried to get erroneous negative third-party information off your credit report? It’s like banging your head against a brick wall. My husband was once harassed by a collections agency due to non‑payment of a phone bill for a phone he never owned that was established in a state he had never lived in. Countless time and energy was spent making calls to the three credit bureaus, the phone service provider and collection agency, resulting in a lock on his credit that lasted a long time and a derogatory mark which sat there for the customary 7 years. We were completely helpless in the situation, or so I thought.
It turns out, there is a very effective, not‑so‑simple way to get derogatory information removed from your credit. It takes relatively little time (3 to 4 months) and a bit of perseverance, but it can be done. I know, because I have done it.
There are websites all over the internet charging anywhere from $30.00 to $699.00 for the information and/or assistance in executing the method. There are also others out there that give you partial information, but don’t include the exact documents you need unless you pay them. But there really is no need to spend that money. I’m going to give you all the information you need clean up your credit and raise your score so that you can enjoy lower payments and interest on the things you need to live a comfortable life and I’m not going to charge you a penny for it.
First, you need to understand a few basic facts about the credit bureaus, how they operate, and about the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
They’re all about getting paid. TransUnion, Equifax and Experian need to make money. It’s their primary interest. Every time a lender contacts these agencies and gives them your personal information, there is a money transaction. The credit bureaus get paid to receive information and they get paid to give information.
Their customer service reps are clueless. Most people who work for these big agencies have no idea what the laws are regarding credit reporting. Their work is mostly automated and they have quotas to reach every day.
They are breaking the law! There are laws written in the Fair Credit Reporting Act that protect you and I, the consumers, and much of the reporting in these agencies goes against these laws. This is primarily because the Fair Credit Reporting Act was written before the age of electronic information and has yet to be updated. But you can use this to your advantage.
The best way to get derogatory marks off your credit score is to start asking questions. Yup. It’s that simple. Well, it’s a little more involved than that, but that’s what it boils down to. You don’t have to “dispute” anything. Beyond your identity, you don’t have to “prove” anything. Provided you approach them the “correct” way, they (the credit bureau) must do all of the work. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well it isn’t. And I am going to give you exactly what you need to start the process, step by step. Are you ready? Then go here to my next post to find out what you need to do next.