Monthly Archives: November 2007

Step 3: Correct the Easy Stuff

If you’re anything like most of us, you’ll notice some egregious errors in the section of your credit report called “Personal Info”. This is where your credit report lists your name, social security number, current and former employers, and current and former addresses. Somehow, it’s difficult for the credit reporting agencies to get your name correct, let alone your employers and addresses.

Ideally, you want to get that report to show your correct name, correct social security number, and your correct current address and nothing else.

There’s some dispute about the best way to go about that. Here’s the plan of attack I’ve decided to follow. I visited my local friendly DMV and got a copy of my driver’s license showing my current address. Yes, it cost me about $20, and no, you don’t have to get a new driver’s license when you move in California. You just have to report your change of address to the DMV. But having a driver’s license with my current address allows me to simply make a copy of my driver’s license and use that as proof of my current address. Then I don’t have to mess around with copies of utility bills and other forms of address verification that could get kind of complicated.

I’m sending off a letter to each of the credit reporting agencies that says something along the lines of:

You have addresses on my record that do not belong to me and are incorrect. My name is Credit Report Maven. Please remove all incorrect names immediately. My address is 123 Credit Report Maven Lane, Los Angeles, California. Please remove all incorrect addresses immediately.

I am enclosing a copy of my driver’s license showing my correct name and address. Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, send me notification that these items have been deleted, as well as an updated copy of my credit report.

As I understand, Experian is the nightmare to deal with here, but Equifax and TransUnion should not be a problem. For these simple personal information disputes, you can use the telephone or online disputes or write letters like I did. For other types of disputes, you should use Certified Mail with Return Receipt.

Step 2: Where Are You?

For a lot of people the though of pulling and reading their credit reports is enough to cause a panic attack. If you know the picture isn’t good, sometimes it seems easier to make like an ostrich and bury your head in the sand and pretend you’ve never heard of credit.

But, girls, it’s time to put on your big-girl panties and deal with it. Your credit report is what it is. As Suze Orman would say, “No shame. No blame.” Learn your lesson, get your credit reports and start making a plan for recovery. I promise you, it’s easier than you think. No matter how bad you’re afraid it is, and no matter how bad (or good) the news actually turns out to be, there’s a tremendous amount of power in knowing the truth – and being able to make a plan for recovery.

When you hide from and ignore your credit situation, you’re giving up your power and you’re making yourself a victim. Get control of the situation, start making steps to improve and repair, and you’re powerful and unstoppable. Job interviews and applying to rent an apartment won’t be scary any more. Getting a car loan? No problem. Buying a home? Also possible.

So, we’re going to pull our credit reports. Yes, all three of them. One of the easiest and best deals is to use the Credit Complete service at myfico.com. It’s $47.85 for all three credit reports and your three FICO credit scores. It’s also true that you are entitled to a free copy of all three of your credit reports each year, but sometimes that can work against you.

MyFICO.com is offering a holiday special for 25% off the Credit Complete service when you use coupon code HOLIDAY25.

So, go. Get all three reports. Print them out twice. File away a clean copy and get ready for making notes on the second copy. Go on, we’ll do it together.

Another Way to Opt Out of Mail

Earlier, I wrote about Opting Out of pre-screened credit offers and direct marketing. The problem with trying to opt out of direct marketing (often known as ‘junk mail’) is that there’s no reliable permanent way to remove your name from all the mailing lists. You can call and ask to be removed from the mailing list for a catalog, but it’s possible that next month that catalog company will buy a new mailing list from another catalog company that has your name and you’ll start receiving that catalog again. It’s impossible to keep up and really put a stop to the direct marking mail.

Enter GreenDimes. For a one-time fee of $15, GreenDimes promises to keep after all those mailing lists and work at getting and keeping your name off of them for you. That $15 barely covers the cost of lunch, and they promise to not only cut your junk mail by 90%, but to also plant 10 trees to make up for all those trees that died to bring you a bunch of catalogs you didn’t want to begin with. GreenDimes is getting some rave reviews around the net, so it’s worth trying out.