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Protect Your Credit Rating

There is a way you can protect your credit rating when inaccurate information shows up on your credit report. The Fair Debt Collections Act (FCRA) requires creditors and others who report information to credit reporting agencies to re-investigate any information that a consumer disputes.

Under the FCRA, a consumer can request, in writing, that a credit reporting agency list a debt as "disputed" and to investigate the validity of the debt if fraud or deception is involved. A consumer should dispute this information with all agencies that report the debt. In addition, it is a good idea to send a letter to the creditor as well.

Within 5 days of receipt of your letter, the credit reporting agency must notify any person who furnished the disputed information and must include all relevant information that you provide. Most reporting agencies use a standard Consumer Dispute Verification form, known as a CDV or "611 notice." After the reporting agency sends this notice to the creditor, the creditor must conduct its own investigation of the accuracy and completeness of the information provided, and report back to the reporting agency promptly. The goal of the reinvestigation procedure is make sure that consumer reports are accurate. The investigation must be "reasonable." Therefore, a failure to conduct such an investigation would be negligence. Your consumer report should not be misleading, out of date or incomplete.

Reinvestigations conducted by reporting agencies must be completed within 30 days of receipt of the dispute letter from the customer. At the end of the reinvestigation period, disputed information must be deleted from your credit report if it cannot be verified, corrected or modified in light of the reinvestigation. Failing to comply with the statutory provisions within required time limits can subject the reporting agency to actual damages and attorney fees. Any furnisher of information who negligently fails to comply with any of FCRA requirements is liable to the consumer for actual damages, the costs of litigation and attorney fees.

Thus, you as the consumer, are in the best position when you inform the creditor in writing of a disputed item, with appropriate details of the error and of the importance to you of an accurate credit record. Don't forget to always send a copy of any disputed items given to the credit reporting agency to the creditor.



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