First, let's begin with some simple rules to help you dispute your negative and erroneous credit report information.
1) You should dispute everything negative on your credit reports. Everything negative on your credit reports should have the chance to be deleted.
2) The older your negative account is, the easier it is for it to be deleted. Negative accounts that are 2 years old or older are the easiest to have deleted because they are less likely to be traced back as yours (even if you know it is yours) after being switched from collection agency to collection agency.
3) If there is a possibility that an account does not belong to you, or if it includes data with errors, the credit bureaus will automatically delete it from your credit reports.
Let's take a minute to talk about pay-off letters and their uses:
1) If you have paid-off accounts still showing on your credit reports, you can have those accounts deleted by including pay-off letters with your dispute letter when you mail them. When you negotiated the settlement or payment plan with that company, you should have received a letter stating the terms of the settlement or payment plan negotiation before making your payment by mail, and a pay-off letter after your settlement or payments were complete.
2) If you did not receive a pay-off letter after completing your payments, you can call that company and request a pay-off letter after the fact. Be sure that the pay-off letter states that your negative item will be removed from your credit report after you have paid it off based on your negotiated terms with that collection agency. Also, be sure that you have proof that you paid off that debt such as a copy of your check or your money order receipt.
3) If you do not have pay-off letters for some of your negative accounts, or if you do not have pay-off letters for any of your negative accounts, you can dispute all of your negative accounts as "This account is not mine ". The credit bureaus will dispute those negative items with the collection agency and many of them will be deleted.
When the credit bureau responds and you have items that have not been deleted, then you can work out payment arrangements or settlements with those collection agencies – as reasonable for your budget. Most accounts can be settled at a reduced amount of 50 – 75% of what was originally owed! Don't forget to get a letter from the collection agency stating the terms of your negotiation before making any payments. Make your payments by mail once you receive that letter. You should also receive a pay-off letter when your settlement or payment plan is complete.
Credit Dispute Letters That Provide The Best Results:
"This is not my account" and "Paid as agreed" dispute letters are the best dispute letters to start with. You want to dispute accounts as not yours to give the credit bureaus a clean place to begin when investigating your accounts. Once they come back as verified, you can begin the second phase of your disputes.
"Paid as agreed" letters will provide you with a second investigation process where the credit bureaus will verify that you paid your account and it needs to be deleted. Your pay-off letters are handy here.
Each credit bureau should be sent 1 letter. For example, you're mailing three "This is not my account" letters, one for each credit bureau.
Do not dispute accounts that do not appear on that particular credit report. For example, if you have 5 negative accounts that show up on your Equifax credit report, but only 3 of those appear on your Experian credit report, do not add the 2 that do not show up on the Experian dispute letter. Only dispute what you see!
Be sure to keep a log of your correspondence with the credit bureaus also.