The Free Way to Clean Up Your Credit Report

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

A client complained to me the other day about how she had spent months trying to have a certain entry removed from her credit report. It was a misunderstanding from the beginning, it didn’t belong there, and because companies use credit reports for pretty much everything these days, she was frustrated and angry and dejected. Did I have any advice for her?

Well, there’s one thing you can do. Many people don’t know that if you feel an entry on your credit report has been put there in error, you can complain in writing to the credit-reporting agency (meaning that if this certain record has been reported to all three agencies, you need to send letters to each one of them separately). The agency then advises the company that put the entry on your record about your complaint, and it has thirty days to respond and strengthen its case. If it fails to do so, the reporting agency removes the entry from your record.

This may sound like a “so what?”, but the truth is many companies are so overwhelmed, if your entry is minor enough (or complicated enough), chances are, they won’t think it’s worth their time to fight your claim. I know many people who have used this technique to improve their credit histories – and thus their futures. It only takes a few letters, and the most it’ll cost you is a couple of stamps.

So next time the thought of spending hours on the phone trying to cut through layers of bureaucracy makes you cringe, try this alternative approach and throw the bureaucracy right back at them!

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Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.