Financial Planning

Disputing Your Credit Report

It is vital to have a healthy financial plan when thinking long-term. Being aware that you can have one free copy of your credit score a year can help maintain that level of excellence.

How To Dispute Your Credit Report

Were you aware that you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) per year? Keeping your credit score as healthy as possible is a vital component of long-term financial planning.

If you're doing a little credit health check-up, and you notice an item on one of your reports that is incorrect or fraudulent, time is of the essence. Disputing erroneous info on your credit report takes at least a month, so if you plan to apply for a home or business loan in the near future, it's crucial that you handle this as efficiently as possible. Here's how you should proceed.

Gather your supporting documents.

If there is incorrect information provided by one of your creditors, such as a past due amount that has already been paid off, you'll need to gather evidence to support your dispute, such as old receipts or statements that prove the amount has already been paid. If the item on your report is fraudulent, you'll need to file a police report and submit that instead. Be sure to send copies of any documents, and not the original paperwork.

Put your dispute in writing, and contact each credit reporting agency that lists the incorrect info, as well as the company that provided the info.

Tell them what item or items you believe to be inaccurate, let them know why, and request that the item in question be removed from your report. Be sure to follow the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines for formatting your dispute letter. (You can also find a sample dispute letter on the FTC's website.)

Send everything via registered mail.

Agencies have 30 days to respond to your dispute from the day they receive your letter. It's important to send your letter of dispute via registered mail so that you can see when they've received it, and follow up if they fail to get back to you in a timely manner. Once they have investigated your claim, they should send you the results of that investigation.

If your dispute is not successful, contact the furnisher of the line of credit.

Per FTC guidelines, the business or agency that originated this incorrect information is also legally obligated to investigate any dispute. Provide your full name and relevant account numbers, as well as copies of your supporting documents, and a new letter of dispute stating your case. You'll need to send all of this info to your creditor's designated address for consumer complaints, or their business address, if they don't have one. If you're uncertain which address to send it to, their customer service hotline should be able to steer you in the right direction.

You can find out more about the determine your credit score and why is your credit score important in our Protective Learning Center.

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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Learning Center articles may describe services and financial products not offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries. Descriptions of financial products contained in Learning Center articles are not intended to represent those offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Neither Protective Life nor its representatives offer legal or tax advice. We encourage you to consult with your financial adviser and legal or tax adviser regarding your individual situations before making investment, social security, retirement planning, and tax‐related decisions. For information about Protective Life and its products and services, visit www.protective.com.

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Credit Reports

Your good credit can be one of the most important financial planning assets you have. For this reason, you need to protect it. Part of a solid financial plan includes reviewing all three of your credit reports on an annual basis to be sure there are no discrepancies. Your financial health depends in large part on your credit report. For more information, visit our learning center.

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