A poor credit score can make life unnecessarily difficult. Your score can limit you from buying a home or keep you from accessing the best possible financing terms and interest rates. As such, it’s no wonder that so many people are working to improve their credit scores and financial health.
One of the quickest ways to turn your credit score around is to dispute negative items with the credit reporting agencies. During this process, you’ll scan your credit report for negative or incorrect items and file a claim to have them removed.
Here’s how to write a credit dispute letter to improve your credit score.
Start By Highlighting Negative Items
First, review your credit report to determine what negative items are impacting your score. This exercise will help you clarify what items to dispute while providing direction for your future financial goals. For example, if you notice a few late payments on your phone bill, this is a good indication that you should switch to automatic billing to prevent further damage.
Determine which negative items have the most merit for removal. Typically, outdated items that have gone to collections and hard inquiries by financing agencies are the most straightforward. Keep in mind that only valid dispute items will be considered for removal; if you made a late payment on your phone bill last night, it wouldn’t be removed.
Put Together Your Basic Information
Put together the basic information and supporting evidence to include in your dispute letter. This information should include:
- Your name and social security number
- Your mailing address
- The creditor name
- The amount disputed
- The date of the item
- The reason for the removal
This information will be the structure for your dispute. Ensure that all of the information is accurate to the best of your knowledge before filing.
Use a Letter Template
Rather than drafting a letter yourself, consider using a template that has the pertinent jargon and phrasing. Using letter templates for removing collections and inquiries will save you time and get you the best possible chance of securing a negative item removal.
Using software with letter templates can streamline the process if you have several disputes to file. This software also helps you keep track of timelines and addresses to simplify the process.
Address Letters to the Bureaus
After the letter is put together with the pertinent information, you’ll need to address the letters to the credit bureaus. It’s important to note that registered or certified mail through the postal service is the best way to accomplish your goal. Online dispute forms put you in an automated system which makes it easier for the agency to reject your claim.
At this time, you can also send a dispute to the original creditor requesting data validation. The creditor will have to provide original documentation supporting the validity of their claim against you to prevent removal. In many cases, they’re unable to do so.
Review the Response
After the dispute is sent, the bureau has 30 days to respond with its findings. If they don’t respond or can’t provide proof, you can submit a follow-up to have the item removed. If they respond with evidence that the item is valid, the dispute is over, and the item won’t be removed.
Sometimes, the bureau or creditor will respond and indicate that the dispute is unsubstantiated. Generally, this means you didn’t provide enough information or tried to dispute a recent item that’s rightfully on your credit report. At this point, you can determine whether it’s best to let it go or continue with the dispute.
Understand Your Rights
As a borrower, it’s essential to understand your rights. Take some time to review the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (FCCPA), and the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA).
If you find yourself struggling with bad credit, talk to a financial advisor to put a corrective action plan in place. Until then, dispute the negative items that could be removed from your credit report for quick results.