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Tips for Writing a Letter to a Credit Bureau

All too often it happens to the best of us: You miss a credit card payment. You forget to drop your car loan payment in the mailbox as you hurry off to work. You order up a copy of your credit report, and you are angry to find negative items listed in it that are not correct. You get a threatening letter from a bill collector and you discover that a "zombie debt" you thought had long ago vanished has arisen from the dead.

You've tried your best to keep your credit crystal clean, but now you've got your work cut out for you.
Now, you're going to have to write a letter to fix your credit.

It's not that it's hard to do. Writing a credit dispute letter is no different that any other sort of letter, even one that you would write to a business colleague. But there are certain steps to keep in mind. We'll provide you with a list of seven tips to be aware of when drafting your credit dispute letter to help save you time, and we'll throw in a free sample credit repair letter for good measure to provide a template for contacting credit bureaus.

Before we start, thought, it's important to note two things:

(1) Credit Reporting Agencies (CRA's) would prefer that you contact them through their website, and
(2) Letters that appear to be "frivolous" might not get you the results you are aiming at.
We will discuss both, then move on to a list of free tips you can use to craft effective credit letters.

1. CRA websites -- no personal touch, no way to document that you mailed the letter via USPS. You get instant access, but there's no paper trail.

2. Frivolous letters -- Departments which cull through letters of dispute are keen to label letters as not worthy of attention. They are within the legal rights set forth in current credit law to deem your letter frivolous for a variety of reasons.

To avoid these two obstacles, we'll offer up our free list of credit letter writing tips to help you document your dispute, and get valid attention.

Tips to Writing Better Credit Letters

1. Order up and review your credit reports.
AnnualCreditReport.com is your free source to review your credit reports each year. You can also call them at toll-free 1-877-322-8228. Study your credit reports compiled by Transunion, Experian and Equifax. Be alert for glaring errors of fact, mistakes in names, outdated information. Keep a legal pad near at hand to jot down problem areas so you won't forget them.

2. Know the addresses of the credit bureaus.
Writing a credit dispute letter is useless unless you know where to send it! Here are the addresses for the three major credit bureaus:

TransUnion
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834

Experian
P.O. Box 9530
Allen, TX 70513

Equifax
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374

3. Have your records handy.
Keep financial records close by as you write. You'll need account numbers, dates, merchant names, etc. Jot down reminders on your legal pad.

4. Type or neatly hand print your letter.
Write as if you are writing a friend, but don't be casual. Watch your language -- no threats or swearing! Typing or block printing also makes your letter more legible. Remember: if they can't read it, they can't fix your credit!

5. Understand how mistake removal process works.
Learn how errors creep into credit reports, and know your rights. Tackle only one problem at a time. Identify the most egregious error, and dispute that. Get full details here on how to improve your credit.

6. Be on watch for identity theft.
Sometimes reviewing your credit report or credit card statements, you will find details that just don't mesh that may not impact your credit score, but you might have stumbled onto the attempt of somebody trying to steal your identity by requesting an address change from your home to an unknown post office box. Best way to fight identity theft when you find it is to

7. Seek out legal help when all else fails.
If your problems seem hopeless, don't despair. You may need to turn to the National Association of Consumer Advocates to locate legal representation to deal with credit bureaus if you truly have cause to feel you've been unfairly treated. Oftentimes, though, you can get assistance directly from non-profit credit counselors. Check your telephone book yellow pages in your hometown for the local phone number to the nearest office.

The following sample credit repair letter template is a good start. Please avoid copying this letter format word for word; CRA's are expert on detecting sample credit templates. Instead, feel free to use this sample letter as a guide to sculpting your own documents. Make them business like and professional, but make them your own.

Sample Credit Repair Letter

January 1, 2011

Credit Bureau Name
Address
City, State, Zip

Dear Sirs,

I received a copy of my credit report, and after reviewing it for errors carefully, I have found many incorrect and outdated entries I wish to dispute, and I request that they get removed immediately.

My account at The BigStuff Store, account #98-87-1234, was paid in full according to the terms of my original credit agreement with this store. This was not a charge off. Please remove this charge off as soon as possible.

I was never late paying Acme Supply, account #2468. My credit report shows me paying 90 days late on both July 2007 and August 2007. These entries are incorrect and they need to be removed.

There are two entries showing the same amount owed to the Computer Supply House, account #112233, just different addresses. The entry that has my old address should be deleted from my credit report immediately.

My name is Robbie Smith. My mailing address is 123 Fine Street, Mytown, CA 54321. My Social Security Number is 555-99-2007. My previous address was 11 West Elm Street, Smalltown, NY 11223. My birthdate is Dec. 25, 1957.

Sincerely Yours,

Joe Consumer

Address
City, State, Zip Code

Last 4 of SSN: xxx-xx-1234

Armed now with this example letter guide, plus the seven tips to create an effective credit dispute with your credit bureau, type or hand print your letter, and be sure to make and keep a copy of it for your records. sadly, not every dispute letter will get the action you want immediately, and it's good to keep copies so you can refer to them or include them in future correspondence.

Keeping a good credit score will help you get the best deals on loans and home mortgages in the future. But a good credit score depends mainly on paying your bills on time, while keeping an eye out for detecting errors and outdated negative items in your credit report. And now, having these tips on how you can write a letter to a credit bureau, you have an example of at least one way to fix your bad credit rating and restore good credit on your own.





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