Negative entries on your credit report drag down your credit score and make getting credit more difficult. If you've had unfair debt reported to the credit bureaus, you must take action to get the entry removed. You have rights under state and federal law if an unfair debt is reported by a debt collector to a major credit bureau. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a federal law, bars debt collectors from entering false information on a credit report and trying to collect invalid debt.
Gather proof of the debt's unfairness. Make a copy of your last billing statement with the final balance and proof of payment, such as a canceled check, if you paid the debt. Copy the papers showing you're a victim, such as the police report, and get copies of your identification and Social Security card if the debt is from identity theft or was mistakenly entered on your report.
Start a dispute with each credit bureau. Each bureau has its own procedures for credit report disputes. You may file the dispute online at the bureau's official website or download a dispute form to be filled out and mailed. You'll need to provide the account information for the unfair debt, including the original creditor and account number if you have it, and copies of your proof of the debt's unfairness.
Contact in writing the debt collector who reported the unfair debt to the bureau. Clearly identify the account and explain why the debt is unfair. Include copies of your proof of the debt's unfairness. Request the collector remove the entry for the debt on your credit reports with each of the major credit bureaus. Request a response. Send the letter and proof to the collector by certified mail, return receipt requested.
Contact the Attorney General's office in your state to report the unfair debt entry on your report. Some states have different debt collecting laws that provide more protection than current federal laws, and the office can help you identify all your rights and the legal options available in your case.
Sue the collector who put the entry on your report. You may sue the collector in a state court under your state's laws or in a federal court under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You must sue within one year of the event under federal laws, so the federal deadline is one year from the date the debt was entered on your report. Deadlines differ by state. The court may award you any damages you can prove, such as lost wages from work because of court, and your legal costs and can order the removal of the entry on your reports.
- You may file a complaint against the debt collector with the Federal Trade Commission using the complaint form online at the FTC's official website.
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