How to Get the “Big Boys” Help in Deleting Credit Errors

TAC Blog Pixel Template4 1024x681 How to Get the “Big Boys” Help in Deleting Credit Errors

By a show of hands, how many of you reading this post have attempted to correct errors in your credit report? What’s that you say? Well of course I can’t see your hands silly (unless you take a picture and post it on my Facebook page :)), but without seeing them, I’m betting quite a few of you have raised your hands.

Here’s another question; how many of you have had the credit bureaus send back one of these responses when you did?

  • A stall letter asking for more information.
  • A rejection letter on the grounds that the dispute is “frivolous or irrelevant.”
  • A rejection based on the grounds that the credit bureau believes you are manipulating the system (or thinks you might be using a credit repair company)

Without needing any pictures posted to the Amateur Consumer Facebook page, without a doubt, if you have attempted to correct errors in your credit report, undoubtedly you have received one of many letters like these.

And the Results Are…

If all goes well, you might receive a letter announcing that your investigation has begun or you may receive a new credit report altogether,  showing the results of an investigation.  But what if in reviewing that report, instead of seeing an item you disputed deleted,  like shown below;

Equifax Dispute Response How to Get the “Big Boys” Help in Deleting Credit Errors

despite all of the corresponding documentation you might have sent to the bureaus, you get a letter like this:

Experian Report2 How to Get the “Big Boys” Help in Deleting Credit Errors

Your Next Steps

If you do get a letter like the one above, the next step you should take is sign up for my free video series, the Better Credit Blueprint.  In it, I go over topics just like this in great detail as well as perform -on video – a “Credit Audit & Verification” using 3 different versions of my own credit report.  You will also learn exactly how to create dispute letters to ensure a successful outcome.

But…no matter how good the letter and how strong the corresponding evidence you send the credit bureaus might be,  there will be times when you get a response just like the one I received, shown above.  Whatever you do, NEVER USE A TEMPLATE LETTER TO DISPUTE CREDIT ERRORS!  Yes, you read that right.  In fact, this topic is so important, I’m going to share an excerpt from video #8 of the Better Credit Blueprint video series that explains factually why you shouldn’t!

Must Go Through The Credit Dispute Process First

As you can see, this is critical information you must know as an Amateur Consumer, but let’s get back to how the CFPB can help you with your credit disputes. To be clear, you must go through the credit disputing process first before you can get the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help you.

As you can see in the letter Experian sent, they state; “We store address information as it is sent to us by your credit grantors or from information contained in public records.  One or more sources of information reported the address you questioned and it is a part of your credit history.” WRONG!

Time to Get Medieval

In the Better Credit Blueprint video series, I clearly demonstrate to Experian, who is reporting the address as a previous residence, that I have never lived there – EVER!  It’s why both TransUnion and Equifax deleted that address from my personal information section.

Now I have to go and get ‘medieval’ on Experian!  It’s amazing how they state to “contact the source of the information who reported the address.”  Hello, McFly; anyone home? When disputing errors in your credit report, the bureaus must provide the source of the information…but not here?

So Now They Think They’re Libraries

In recent testimony before The House Financial Services Committee Subcommittee on Financial Institutions & Consumer Credit, Evan Hendricks, who has been qualified by the courts as an expert witness in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, stated,  “In the FCRA, Congress declared, “There is a need to insure that consumer reporting agencies exercise their grave responsibilities with fairness, impartiality, and a respect for the consumer’s right to privacy.” Yet there have been instances in which CRAs, when confronted with their specific failures to ensure accuracy or correct inaccurate
disputed data, have argued that they are like “libraries” that passively receive data from creditors similar to the way in which libraries put books on the shelf without screening them. The reality is that the Big Three see their primary duty to faithfully put on consumers’ reports what creditors and debt collectors dictate – even when there is compelling evidence to the contrary”.  

Well I had compelling evidence to the contrary that both Equifax and TransUnion agreed with – but not Experian!

Hendricks also said that the big Three, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, see their primary duty to faithfully put on consumers’ reports what creditors and debt collectors dictate, despite the FCRA’s requirement that they maintain “reasonable procedures for maximum possible accuracy.”!  Again; I’m about to get medieval on Experian and you’ll see that happen in the Better Credit Blueprint Video Series.

Time To Call in the “Big Guns”

If Experian does not provide me with the source of that erroneously and incorrectly reported address, and I show proof through irrefutable evidence such as Driver’s License, County Tax Records, and Deed (which I already have) that I have never lived at that address, guess what Experian must do?  DELETE!

If they don’t, now I can call in the “Big Guns”,  the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and you can too should you find yourself in a similar situation as me. But remember; first you have to go through the credit disputing process as I demonstrate in my free video series.  Then, if the problem isn’t corrected, you should contact the consumer agency. When you do, you’ll be given a tracking number to check on the status of your complaint, and as part of the CFPB’s process, you’ll also have an opportunity to dispute the credit bureaus response to your complaint.  LOVE IT!

Hey Credit Bureaus…Get Some!

Here’s the best part of the whole process; the CFPB says they expect consumer-reporting agencies to respond to complaints within 15 days and the response has to include steps they have taken, or plan to take, to correct any errors.  I just got goose-bumps thinking about it! icon smile How to Get the “Big Boys” Help in Deleting Credit Errors

The watchdog agency has just begun accepting individual complaints about credit bureaus and if Experian doesn’t get my dispute right, that’s my next call – maybe.  Since I know I’m 100% unequivocally correct in my dispute, if they don’t get it right, I may just take them to small claims court and take their money – stay tuned!

We Have the Right to an Accurate Credit Report

Fact is, as Amateur Consumers, we all deserve an accurate report and the chance to easily dispute errors and get timely corrections made; plain and simple!  This is why you need to learn how to perform a “Credit Audit & Verification” of your credit report.  After all, credit reporting accuracy is first and foremost a consumer protection issue!  Get educated and protect yourself!

Here’s how you can file a complaint against the credit bureaus; go online to www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint or call toll-free to 855-411-2372. You can also fax your complaint to 855-237-2392 or mail it directly to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at; P.O. Box 4503, Iowa City, Iowa, 52244.  Unlike the Credit Bureaus, this complaint can be expedited online!

What experiences have you had with disputing errors on your credit report?  Is there a dispute you gave up on because you were tired of the runaround you got from the credit bureaus?  If so, and you have correctly gone through the credit disputing process, what are you waiting for?  Contact the  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today!



3 Steps You Must Take To Recover From Credit and Financial Hell

Changes 3 Steps You Must Take To Recover From Credit and Financial Hell

It’s been 3 and half months since I started the Amateur Consumer Blog and created the Better Credit Blueprint video series.   But it’s been 2 year since I started this long and arduous road back from credit and financial hell!  As I have shared my stories and experiences of being pushed off the financial grid and being treated as “less than”, I discovered from those very experiences that there are 3 steps you must take in order to recover from credit and financial hell!

Step #1: Change Your Mindset

If you want to change your life, you have to start by changing your mindset first because your mind will decide what type of changes you can, and will make in your life. As I said in my very first blog post; you have to come to the realization that “it is what it is” and there is nothing you can do about the road behind you.  But there is definitely something you can do about the road ahead of you and that’s where you need to understand that you can’t change your circumstances with the same mindset that helped get you into them in the first place.  Truly, it will become what you make it!

One of the best blog posts I have read recently was from the Marc and Angel Hack Life Blog titled “10 Habits You Must Quit to Be Happy”.  Let me share habit #6 from that list:  Quit talking down to yourself.

Nothing will bring you down quicker than berating yourself.  The mind is a superb instrument if used right, but when used incorrectly, it becomes very destructive.  Be aware of your mental self-talk.  We all talk silently to ourselves in our heads, but we aren’t always conscious of what we’re saying or how it’s affecting us.

As Henry Ford once stated, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”  One of the major causes of why we fail is due to self-doubt and negative self-talk.  The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful.  Listen to your self-talk and replace negative thoughts with positive ones, over time you will change the trajectory of your life.

And after all, isn’t this what you’re looking to do?  Change the trajectory of your life?  Start by changing your mindset!

Step #2: Secure Your Finances

I’d love to say this is the hardest of the 3 steps you must take but fact is; without taking the first step, step number two may not matter anyway!  I was a loan officer and mortgage broker for the better part of the last decade but after my bankruptcy, foreclosure, and overall financial meltdown, my credit went to hell with it and so did my mortgage career thanks to new credit requirements with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry.  Truth be told; I was burned out and needed a new start anyway so I wasn’t entirely heartbroken about it!

For me, that new start really became a “restart”.  Since I had performed over 500 plus real estate transactions over the last decade, I went out and obtained my State of Florida Realtors License in 2011 to take advantage of that experience. But it took me until now, September 2012, to find my stride as well as a broker who knew my story of success and failure, collapse and reinvention, and wasn’t judging me because of it!  We all need a helping hand back up and honestly, I had to re-find my inner entrepreneur as well and learn how to “make money” again.  Which brings me back to the Marc and Angel Hack Life Blog and habit #7 you must quit to be happy; Quit running from your problems and fears.

Trust me, if everyone threw their problems in a pile for you to see, you would grab yours back.  Tackle your problems and fears swiftly, don’t run away from them.  The best solution is to face them head on no matter how powerful they may seem.

Fears, in particularly, stop you from taking chances and making decisions.  They keep you confined to just the small space where you feel completely comfortable.  But your life’s story is simply the culmination of many small, unique experiences, many of which require you to stretch your comfort zone.  Letting your fears and worries control you is not ‘living,’ it’s merely existing.

My fears and worries were definitely stopping me from taking chances!  I had forgotten that by definition, being an entrepreneur is being a “risk taker” and I was no longer willing to stretch my comfort zone.  I finally realized it was keeping me from taking control of my finances and I needed to stop ‘existing’ and start ‘living’  once again!  More importantly, my family was depending on it!  You must regain control of your earnings if you are to regain control of your finances as the second step to recovering from credit and financial hell.

Step #3: Accelerate the Process of Credit Recovery  

You may think you have to wait 7, 10, or more years for your credit to recover after bankruptcy, foreclosure, and financial hell; but you’d be wrong!  In fact, I’m going to tell you something you never hear any personal finance or credit guru tell you; your credit report will be even more screwed up because of it!  That’s right! And I’m talking from experience.  Don’t believe me?  Then click on the Better Credit Blueprint Tab and take my free video course where I show you exactly how chock-full of errors my credit report was!

Let’s be clear here:  I’m not talking about removing my bankruptcy, foreclosure, or tax liens from my credit.  I’m talking about making sure everything pertaining to those negative credit events on my credit report were being reported with 100% accuracy.  I’ve been in credit and lending for over 20 plus years and it absolutely makes a difference while rebuilding your credit after surviving credit and financial hell if liens are being reported as “paid” and show no monies due.  After a $1.6 million dollar bankruptcy, I also found many of my accounts included in the bankruptcy not reporting a “zero” balance or discharged in bankruptcy as they should have.

I found accounts included in the bankruptcy showing as active and currently delinquent with “past due” balances.  Hell, I even found accounts that weren’t even mine!  Unfortunately, if you have gone through credit and financial hell like I have, you may think you can do nothing about your credit and assume creditors, collectors, and the credit bureaus have reported everything accurately.  And again… you’d be wrong! In order to correct those errors and inaccuracies from your credit report, you need to learn how to perform a Credit Audit & Verification of your credit report which I show you how to do, step by step, in my free Better Credit Blueprint Video Series.

Let me share with you one more habit I had to stop doing from the  Marc and Angel Hack Life Blog – habit #9; Quit trying to be someone you’re not.

One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.  Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger,  but they will never be you.  Don’t change so people will like you.  Be yourself and the right people will love you, and you’ll love yourself more too.

By taking these 3 steps, you will begin the process of recovering from credit and financial hell.  By being yourself,  the “right” people will love you regardless of what you have been through and I”m talking from experience!  I have also found that I love myself a whole lot more too!

Are you recovering from credit and financial hell?  If so, did you take any of these same steps I did to get yourself pointed back in the right direction?  Were there other steps you took that helped you change your circumstances?  Please share your stories and experiences here with me  and if you haven’t already done so, visit the Mark and Angel Hack Life Blog and read the entire“10 Habits You Must Quit to Be Happy” post.  You’ll be glad you did (even if it does take you away from my blog. Just make sure to come back :))



The Credit Score Myth and Why it’s Wrong!

Chicken before the egg TAC Picture1 1024x681 The Credit Score Myth and Why it’s Wrong!

What came first, the chicken or the egg? As I sat at my computer laughing about this question, seriously speaking, it’s one that has baffled scientists and academics alike for ages.  But when it comes to credit, what came first; the credit score or the credit report?

One look at the T.V, one listen to the radio, or one browse through the internet and we are constantly being bombarded with jingles from companies like “freecreditscore.com”, or ads on how to “fix your credit score”, or seeing online “tips, tricks, and advice” on how to fix your credit score.  So that settles it, right?  The credit score came first. WRONG!

Let Me Explain

Let’s begin with the question; what is a credit score? According to the “learn about scores” section on myfico.com, you have three FICO scores; one for each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Each score is based on information the credit bureau keeps on file about you. As this information changes, your credit scores tend to change as well.

Let’s break that statement down a bit.  We have 3 FICO scores – check! (more on this later)  Each score is based on information the credit bureaus keep on file about you – check!  Wait a minute; my credit score is based on the information the credit reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax have on file about me?  Contained in my credit report? YES!

Information = Credit Score

Additionally, the same page at myfico.com states that for your three FICO scores to be calculated, each of your three credit reports must contain at least one account opened for at least six months.  Each report must contain at least one account that has been updated in the past six months as this ensures there is enough information – and enough recent information – on which to base a FICO score on.

So if the credit score is based off the information that is contained in our credit report, wouldn’t that information be more important than the actual credit score itself? Bingo; of course it does!  But that’s not where the revenue is generated from.  It’s generated in getting you to buy that credit score and buy products and services that promise to “fix”  or “monitor” that credit score.  In  fact, it costs the credit bureau’s money every time they have to address a dispute.  In case you didn’t know, they are not “non-profit” organizations.

Time For A Shift In Mindset

When was the last time you heard a jingle about credit report correction? When was the last time you heard a commercial on how to correct your credit report?  When was the last time you saw a Google Ad for correcting mistakes?  What we get instead are catchy tunes and advertising about “fixing” our credit scores!  I don’t know about you, but when I hear that song from “freecreditscore.com” it takes me hours before I can get it out of my head!

What I want you to do right now is take a deep breath because the next line you read  is about to totally disrupt the thought process you have been “conditioned” to believe; there’s no such thing as “fixing” your credit score!  You read that right!  The only thing we can do as amateur consumers is “correct” the information contained within our credit report by making sure it’s accurate and complete!

Just to clarify; you can improve your credit score, which is inherently different than saying ‘fix’.  The technical reason why you can improve your credit score is because the credit reporting companies apply an in-depth mathematical model (called an “algorithm”) to the information in your credit file to yield your credit score.  As such, it will respond to improvement in the different factors used by the algorithm to determine your score.  But again, that’s different than “fix” and I explain what these factors are in my free video series, The Better Credit Blueprint.

Only 3 Credit Scores? Kind of….

So FICO says there are 3 scores; one for each of the three credit bureaus, right?  But in a recent article for The New York Times, Ann Carrns, a freelance writer based in Fayetteville AR wrote that we have 49 different FICO scores.  Wait a minute; didn’t FICO say there were 3?  Well – kind of.  You see,  in the same article, Ann had John Ulzheimer, a nationally recognized credit expert, share this infographic showing a total of 49 different versions of your credit score under the FICO umbrella. Oh…there’s a FICO umbrella?  Why didn’t you just say so? icon smile The Credit Score Myth and Why it’s Wrong!

Of course, Ann asks, ” why so many?”  Guess what; we all do!  That is those of us who strive to understand credit and how to manage it in order to become a better, more informed consumer!  But herein lays the problem.  John points out that all of this can be confusing to, what I call, the “amateur” consumer.

Is My Credit Score Ready?

Ann writes that credit data is collected by the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and analyzed by FICO to create a single, three-digit score. For further clarification I would add; at the time your credit is pulled.  That’s right.  Not only are there many differing scoring models, but they are scored at the time your credit report is being requested.  It’s not just sitting there in some credit bureau’s computer.

For instance, you could be shopping for a car and have your credit report pulled from two different dealerships – 2 hours apart, and your scores could be different!  How, you ask, if nothing has changed with your credit over those 2 hours? Welcome to the confusing and nonsensical world of credit scoring where we, as truly Amateur Consumers, really are clueless!

Clearly, The Report Comes First!

John goes on to say that the main point to keep in mind is that the same general principle applies to keeping your scores attractive to lenders: Pay your bills on time, maintain low credit-card balances and apply for credit only when you really need it, “not to save 10 percent at the mall”.  That’s good solid advice and surely he doesn’t need my endorsement.  However, I would argue that the main part as consumers is to understand that credit report accuracy is first and foremost, a consumer protection issue, and you have to make sure the information contained in your credit file is 100% accurate. Then you can worry about actually improving it.

The fact is we place too much importance on credit scores and not enough importance to the actual information contained in our credit report!  Sufficed to say, if your credit score is determined by the information contained in your credit report, before you do anything, you should make sure that information being reported about you is correct.  After all, the best guardian of your economic reputation is you!