By Michael Hall
When a company takes “adverse action” against you, you’re entitled to another free credit report if you ask for it within 60 days of getting notified about the action. The company has to send you a notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the credit bureau that provided your report.
You’re also entitled to another free report each year if:
• you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days
• you’re on welfare
• your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft
If you think someone might be using your personal information to open accounts, file taxes, or make purchases, go to IdentityTheft.gov to report it and get a personalized recovery plan.
If there is incorrect information on your report you can dispute mistakes or outdated items on your credit report for free. Both the credit bureau and the business that provided the information about you to a credit bureau are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report.
Make sure the information in your report is accurate, complete, and up to date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.
Here are some ways you or your financial counselor could dispute inaccurate information. First, take advantage of all your rights, contact the credit bureau and the business that reported the information.
• Send letter to credit bureau
• Send letter to business that provided the information
Credit bureaus have to investigate the items you question within 30 days, unless they reasonably determine that your dispute is frivolous.
It takes time to improve your credit, but you can rebuild your credit by paying your bills by the due date, paying off debt — especially on your credit cards — and not taking on new debt.
Good credit counselors spend time discussing your entire financial situation with you before coming up with a personalized plan to solve your money problems. They won’t promise to fix all your problems or ask you to pay a lot of money before doing anything.
Michael Hall is a financial counselor with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. As a financial counselor he helps individuals allocate their funds better, deal with debt, weigh in on legal options, and even save for a rainy day. If you’re in debt or have no credit and need help, a reputable credit counseling organization, like the Office of Financial Empowerment through NYC Office of Consumer Affairs might be able to help. To schedule a financial counseling appointment, go to: www.nyc.gov/talkmoney or call 718-636-6900 and ask for Michael Hall.