It really ruins your day to find out your identity has been stolen – understatement of the century. You’ll be angry, and maybe even embarrassed that the situation has happened to you. Even worse will be the frustration you’ll face as you try to clean up the mess.
Since the crime begins as a financial one, it’s important to fix credit report errors or unauthorized charges and accounts opened in your name. The key to cleaning up your credit report is to move quickly and be patient. The faster you catch and dispute errors, the easier it will be to clean them up. Just understand that even though you caught them early, it still takes time to dispute a credit report entry.
But you do have rights. The Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 made it a law for credit reporting agencies to investigate disputes about the information contained on your credit report. You have the right to dispute inaccurate and unauthorized entries on your credit report. You’re also entitled to a written explanation of the results of any investigation resulting from such a dispute. You are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report once the changes have been made as well.
Once corrections have been made, you have a right to request that a copy of your updated report be delivered to every creditor that has pulled your credit report in the past six months, and every employer that has requested it in the past two years. You have to request this, however, in writing.
Even though you must understand that these things take time, you should know that an investigation should be complete within 20 business days of the date that the credit reporting agency receives your dispute letter. That means you should see results of the investigation within 30-45 days after submitting the dispute. If this doesn’t happen, you may have the right to have the disputed entry removed from your credit report, regardless of the investigation’s results. But you should consult legal counsel in this circumstance.
Whatever your situation, be aware that you do have rights and that you can, and should, stand up for yourself. It’s your credit report, after all.