Fixing a Credit Report after being hacked
First off, how NOT to fix a hacked credit report: signing on with a service that promises to correct the problem in a jiffy-a "sounds too good to be true" advertisement. A company that claims they will 100% fix your bad credit by removing negative information from your credit report is a bit scammy. In fact, whatever a credit repair company CAN legally do, you yourself can do.
Tips to Know Ahead of Time
- If a company takes action against you, you're entitled to a free credit report if you request it within 60 days of being notified.
- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are required to provide you, free of charge, your credit report every year.
- It's free to question anything on your credit report.
- Credit reporting agencies are required to investigate your disputes, if valid, within 30 days.
Credit Reporting Agency
- Send the reporting company a document explaining your issues. Include copies of documents for evidence.
- Your mailed packet (use certified mail) should include an itemized list of your disputes and associated details.
- The agency will send your material to the entity that provided the information in question. This entity must investigate the issues, then provide feedback to the credit reporting agency, and that includes corrections in your report if it's deemed that the suspicious information was, in fact, inaccurate.
- You will then hear back from the reporting agency: an updated report (free) and the results in writing. The agency will send a copy of the revised report, at your request, to anyone in the previous 24 months who had received the erroneous one.
- Inform them in writing of your dispute.
- Include copies of all evidencing documents.
Repairing errors and getting rid of accurate but negative information are not the same thing. Time heals wounds; you'll need to let time (usually seven years) completely get rid of the bad stuff.
Should you decide to use a credit repair company, know that it's against the law for them to lie about their services or charge you before they've done their job. By law they must provide a contract explaining your rights and their services, plus many other details including total cost.
Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to bestcompany.com discussing identity theft prevention.
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