You’re certainly not the first person to think, “I want to clean my credit up, but I don’t know where to start.” Unless you enjoy perusing the pages of federal consumer laws in your spare time, you may be unsure of what resources are available to help repair your credit. Fortunately, the laws on the books are designed to protect consumers and will help you achieve your goals – whether those goals are to qualify for a house or new car or just avoid another credit card rejection.
Consumer Protection Statutes
Here’s what you need to know: Creditors can’t just report whatever they please, whenever they please, to the credit bureaus. Before a single late payment gets reported, creditors must ensure that they’ve met the letter of the law with regard to both FAIR as well as accurate credit reporting.
Second, debt collectors can’t just behave the way they like either. Before they put something on your credit report, they must abide by very specific legal requirements related to who owns the alleged debt, the age of the obligation, and even whether they are bonded to collect in your state.
Finally, credit bureaus are limited as to what they can include in their credit reports as well. For example, included items must be verifiably accurate in every aspect. For another example, certain time limits must be respected. And, finally, federal laws restricts the consumer reporting agencies from including several categorical types of information entirely.
Lexington Law Firm, like other competent consumer law practitioners, leverages all of these rights on your behalf when helping you to confront your credit reports.
Your Payment Report Card
So what’s a credit report anyway? Your credit report can be like a bad report card in school: you’d rather not look at it. In fact, think of it as a “payment” report card. In that regard, going over your financial past can uncover some surprises that may help your credit score. You can request your credit reports from any or all of the three consumer reporting companies: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires all three to provide you with a free credit report once a year. This is the same law that allows you to dispute questionable negative information on your credit reports to have it removed. Take advantage of the consumer laws in place and review your credit report thoroughly. Finding questionable information to challenge is the first step in cleaning up your credit.
If you find questionable information on your credit reports, the next step is to decide which consumer protection statutes apply for each credit report item. Lexington Law Firm can help with that. If you’re dealing with a very simple matter, perhaps you may want to just file a credit dispute on your own. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the right to dispute with any of the credit reporting companies. Under the FCRA, the credit reporting company has 30 days to respond to your request. A number of things can result in turn:
- The credit bureau can accept your request and remove the false negative items from your credit report
- The credit bureau fails to verify the information. If this happens, the law requires that the items be removed from your credit report automatically.
- The credit bureau rejects your request. You can respond by writing a follow-up letter or delving more deeply with your creditors. Again, Lexington Law Firm can assist in that case.
Stay on Track
Invariably those who enjoy clean credit also know how to be organized. As with any professional correspondence, keeping current and accurate records is imperative. Track all communication between yourself and the credit companies. Your diligence will pay off in the end.
Finally, remember that the FCRA is only one of your legal rights to accurate credit reporting. One must also consider the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) as well as the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). Together, these three consumer protection statutes define your civil rights as a consumer. Understanding — and even better, exercising and enforcing — those federally guaranteed protections is the absolute best way to transform a poor credit score into a really good one.