How To Get Free Copies Of Your Credit Reports

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The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows consumers the right to 1 free credit report from each of the major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union every year.  There are multiple ways to get the free copy. 

  • You can contact each of the credit bureaus directly online, by phone or mail. 
  • If you have been applied for credit recently you can always ask the lender for a copy of your credit report.  This is usually a 3-in-1 credit report that is a little bit harder to read.
  • You can order your credit report online from one of the many free credit report websites.  Just make sure you order from a reputable website.  Here is a list of the top free credit report websites: 

    • logo-annualcreditreport.gif
      Government ran website that runs you through each credit bureau's website.  Completely free, no credit card required.
    • logo-freecreditscore.gif
      You get a free credit score and credit report from Experian when you sign up for a credit monitoring trial.  This does require a credit card and you will be charged $14.95 if you don't cancel with in the 7 day free trial.  They do have some good credit tools and interface.
    • logo-creditkarma.gif
      You get a free credit score from Transunion with no strings attached.  No credit report, but they tell what is huring your credit score the most.  No credit card required.

How To Remove Negative Items With The Credit Bureaus

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The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows consumers and Lexington Law the right to dispute anything on your credit report you believe to be inaccurate or erroneous.  The reason for disputing can range from it not being yours, to a wrong balance, to just wanting the negative item verified.  You can dispute 3 different ways including:

  • Online - The best way to dispute is online on the 3 credit bureau's websites Experian.com, Equifax.com, Transunion.com.  If you got your free credit reports from http://www.annualcreditreport.com you will have a credit report with each website already.  You can click on any negative item on your credit report and there will be a dispute option for you to dispute it.
  • Mail - This involves sending dispute letters to all 3 credit bureaus.  You will find their contact information below.  You will need a good dispute letter stating your negative items being disputed and the reason for the dispute.  Include your social security number and your account numbers.  This is a little slower and more time consumering than online, but seems to be slightly more effective.  Lexington Law Firm utilizes this method.
  • Phone - You can dispute your negative items by phone, but you will need your report or file number to submit the dispute.  The credit bureaus won't even talk to you until they have it.  This method is not recommeded.

Equifax

P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
http://www.equifax.com
1-800-685-1111

Experian

P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
http://www.experian.com
1-888-397-3742

Transunion

P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
http://www.transunion.com
1-800-888-4213

Which Items To Dispute First And How Many Items To Dispute

There are different strategies for which negative items and how many negative items should be disputed.  Some items hurt your credit score more and should be disputed first.  Other items like late payments need to be disputed differently to try and remove the late payment, but the entire account if possible.  Here is a list of items known affects on your credit score:?

Negative Items If your score is 680 If your score is 780
Maxed-out account Down 10 to 30 pts. Down 25 to 45 pts.
30-day late payment Down 60 to 80 pts. Down 90 to 100 pts.
Debt Settlement Down 45 to 65 pts. Down 105 to 125 pts.
Foreclosure Down 85 to 105 pts. Down 140 to 160 pts.
90-day late payment Down 100 to 120 pts. Down 180 to 220 pts.
Bankruptcy Down 130 to 150 pts. Down 220 to 240 pts.
Source: FICO

 

Here is a list of negative items in order of impact:

Bankrupcty, Judgment, Tax Lien, 90-Day Late Payment, Collection, Charge Off, Foreclosure, Repossesion, 60-Day Late Payment, 30-Day Late Payment

Amount owed on an account and how recent it is change how much a negative item affects you.  The more recent a negative item, the more affects you.  The more owed on an item, the more it affects you.

Credit bureaus are always trying to mark an account as frivolous, so it is important to write a good dispute letter that doesn't raise any red flags.  You can do this by disputing only 1/3 of your negative items at a time.  If you have a lot of items(30 or more), you can do a little less.  If you don't have very many items(5 or less), you can do all of them.  A general rule of thumb is to dispute 1/3 of your negative items.

How To Dispute Negative Items With Your Creditors

Disputing negative items with your creditors is similar to disputing with the creditors.  The letters you use are slightly different, but the creditors are bound under the same Fair Credit Reporting Act to verify your negative listings.  The results are usually less effective because creditors don't always have a dispute department in place or are not used to dealing with creditor intervention letters.  That is why it is good to have a law firm on your side to take it to the next level if needed.

This is the required information for a dispute letter:

  • Your full name
  • Your complete mailing address
  • Your date of birth
  • Your Social Security number
  • The name and account number of the creditor and item in question (Partial account numbers as listed on your credit report are accepted)
  • The reason for your disagreement with the disputed item-be specific
  • Your signature

In most situations you will either not receive a response or receive a form letter from the creditor that resolves nothing.  You can either follow up with another letter and might get the same result or call your creditor.  They are required by law to provide documentation of your account, so get it and if they don't have it, get proof of it.

It is very important to get a letter from the creditor stating that they are not reporting your account.  This letter is used to forward to all 3 credit bureaus to remove any negative item that is reporting.

Should You Repair Your Credit Yourself Or Hire Lexington Law Firm To Do It For You

You can do anything that Lexington Law Firm can do for you.  You can also probably do it for less money and it will give you more knowledge and control over your finances.  But Lexington Law will do a better job because of their experience and dispute process.  They will save you time and put you at ease. 

So it is up to you what you want.  Do it yourself or hire Lexington Law Firm.