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- Lesson 5 – Sending Your 1st Dispute LettersVIDEO · 14 MIN·PREREQUISITE
- Lesson 5 – TextTEXT·PREREQUISITE
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Lesson 5 – Text
Sending Your 1st Letters
(Text to Read)
In the previous lessons, I gave you the basics about credit and went over how to spot questionable information and mistakes. You also now have knowledge about the laws and how to use them to your advantage. It’s time to use it! Are you ready? This lesson will give you a clear understanding on how to get started sending your first letters and help guide you along the basic dispute process. I’m going to help you visualize the process of credit repair, and how to get started. If you have not already done so, please print out the attachment labeled “Basic Dispute Process” to follow along.
Grab the Low Hanging Fruit (What to dispute first)
When I say grab the low hanging fruit, what I mean by that is – you want to remove as much negative information as possible with the least amount of effort. This is done in one of two ways:
- Factual Disputing
Let’s make sure we all understand the terminology.
Verification is when you place the burden of proof on the credit bureaus to “VERIFY” questionable information.
Factual Disputing is when you are disputing the item based on the fact that something about the item is inaccurate, outdated or incomplete.
A lot of people get both of these terms confused with Validation. Just to clear the air and hopefully provide some clarity – Validation is when you are demanding a 3rd party debt collection agency or furnisher to provide proof the account is accurate, this is not sent to the bureaus, it’s sent directly to the debt collector.
So, when your sending off your first dispute letters, I always recommend you start with the path of least resistance which is verification.
You can choose Round 1 as your letter, and the only thing you need to change are two things 1) the REASON to suggest that you feel the items are questionable and 2) the INSTRUCTION to state that you want the bureau to verify the items are 100% accurate or remove them. You’ll be surprised at how many items are deleted simply because the furnisher fails to respond to the bureaus in 30 days.
So go ahead and request verification of a few items at a time.
If you are aware of any actual errors, or inaccurate, outdated or incomplete information, you can also start “factually Disputing” if you like.
For example, if you settled a collection account and have a written agreement that the account would be deleted – go ahead and include that proof and factually dispute it as one of your first items.
Then, maybe you have a late payment showing up that is over 7 years old, dispute that as well.
The idea of factual disputing is to try to pinpoint errors and inaccuracies if at all possible as opposed to just sending a bunch of blanket disputes.
Start with the 3 Bureaus Using Round 1I want to let you in on a dirty little secret, most of the largest credit repair companies in America, the ones making millions and millions of dollars selling credit repair, use the same Round 1 letter in 90% of the letters they send. It may seem basic, but it is highly effective. After you have decided what to dispute, it’s time to put it in writing.
Credit Repair Cloud’s awesome software makes this process incredibly easy. It can automatically import your credit reports and pre-populate everything, so you simply choose the letter you want, then choose the reasons and instructions from a drop-down menu and click print. You can also do this on your own without software, but your going to need to know a little more about the process. Look at the attached infographic flowchart. This is the first step in that chart. If you haven’t already done so – please download the attached document labeled “Basic Dispute Process”. This chart will help you fully understand what letters to send, when to send them and why.
There are some basic rules you should know if you want the letter to be effective:1. Always use “Round 1 Letter” first! (it’s simple for a reason) You can find the Round 1 letter attached to this lesson! (See in the illustration, this is the first step in the process.)
2. You should not dispute more than 5 items with each credit bureau. Here’s why I recommend this: If you dispute too many items all at once, the credit bureau may deem your disputes as “frivolous,” essentially throwing them all out – and then you’re fighting that as well. So if you’re just starting out, keeping it under 5 items will give you a much easier start. 3. Remember, there are 3 credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion), each maintains their own separate records so, for example Experian may have items that Transunion does not have, or Equifax may not have items appearing on Experian. Make sure you review all 3 reports!
Reasons and Instructions
Make sure you include a REASON and INSTRUCTION for each item you are disputing! A lot of people are intimidated by this because they often feel the credit bureaus will read the instructions and disagree, but the truth of it is that there is very little human intervention. The credit bureaus automate 95% of their dispute handling. From the time the letter is actually received, there are machines that do almost everything. From slicing upon the envelope to scanning an image of the letter, a computer does almost everything – it even reads the letter.
Depending on which bureau it is, the only decision making humans have in the process is determining the reason and instruction for each item. They don’t care about the content of the letter, they just want to know what is being disputed and why it’s being disputed so they can place a numerical value on the item and feed it back into their computer system which automatically, electronically contacts the furnisher that reported it. Regardless, I can tell you from vast experience in writing dispute letters – although the reason and instruction for each item is required – it’s not all that important. Frankly, what you are counting on is for the furnisher to not respond – so the account is deleted. As long as that happens – mission accomplished.
Let’s discuss some common “reasons”.
1. If the item doesn’t belong to you, you can simply list the furnisher name and account number, followed by the reason. The reason can be very simple like: “The following information is not mine.”
2. Or, another example.. If you feel the information is wrong, or questionable, there is no need to go into details, you can say something like: “The information is inaccurate, please remove it!”
3. Or, let’s say that one of the items is past the credit reporting time clock, you can say something simple as “The following information is outdated and I want it removed from my report.” OR, you can get specific and say “The status date for this collection account is over 7 years old and should not appear on my report.It’s really up to you. There is no real “wrong way” to explain what you want done, just make sure you include a reason with each item your disputing. Each item should also have an instruction. This is super easy. You are basically telling the credit bureau what to do for each item. Always try to be polite as possible and state what you want to happen.
For example, let’s say you have a late payment on an open account. You don’t want the entire account deleted, you just want to late payment removed. You can say something like this: “Please correct my report by removing the late payment from my credit report.” This time – let’s do an example where you have a collection account that doesn’t belong to you. You can say: “Please remove this misleading information from my credit.” I think you get the idea by now, its very simple to explain what result you want.
Let’s do one final example:Let’s say the collection account your disputing is yours, but it has the wrong status date, the wrong balance or something about it is questionable. Every item on your report must be 100% accurate or removed. I would say something like “Please investigate and remove this inaccurate information.”
Ok great, we’ve got this!
Include ID & Proof of Address
At this point, you’ve reviewed your credit reports, decided on what items you want to dispute first, your using round 1 dispute letter and you are either using Credit Repair Cloud Software to make it easy, or you are manually writing your own letters for each of the 3 bureaus. You have listed up to 5 items you want to dispute on each of the 3 letters, and have added the names, account numbers, reasons and instructions for each item your disputing..
Your letters look great, what do you do next?When your ready to mail out your first round letters to the bureaus, make sure you include ID and address verification documents, the credit bureaus will not send you the results unless you prove you are who you say you are and prove where you live.
The best verification documents are a government issued ID plus a utility bill with your current address.Once you verify your identity, you do not need to send the verification documents for later rounds. Some people send the documents with every dispute just to be sure the process doesn’t slow down or stop, but that is entirely up to you.
If you have proof, include it! Remember a few minutes ago, I said that if you have proof – you should use it. Let’s key in on this just to make sure were all on the same page.
So – If you have any proof to back up your claims – make sure you utilize it! Just to name a few common examples:
- Let’s say you made a deal with a debt collector, and the debt collector agreed to delete the account from your report but failed to do so after it was paid. Make sure you include a copy of the agreement.
- Or maybe you were a victim of identity theft and you have a police report, definitely include a copy.
- Sometimes creditors make mistakes, if you have any letters that say it – use it.
- I’ve seen situations where people had cancelled checks for paid debts still appearing as unpaid on their reports – this is credit repair gold! You should absolutely insert copies with the dispute letters!
So if you have any proof, this would be the time to print it and include it in your envelope.
Mailing Your LettersNow it’s time to mail the letters to the 3 credit bureaus. I have included a downloadable PDF with the addresses for each of the credit bureaus, but remember – if you are using Credit Repair Cloud software, all of this information is automatically populated into the letters for you! After you print out your first round of letters, simply include your government issued ID and a utility bill in each envelope and drop in the mail.
So, now that you’ve mailed your Round 1 Letters, you are waiting for the 3 bureaus to respond. Technically, the bureaus have 30 days from the date they receive your letters to respond, which could take a few days from the time you mailed them for the bureaus to receive and process them. Then their investigation begins. They will contact the source of the information that you disputed and generally speaking, they usually do this pretty quickly. When their done, they will mail you the results. There will be a couple of days before the mail arrives back to you. Although the process is generally quick and usually takes under 30 days, don’t be surprised if it takes up to 45 days to receive everything back from the credit bureaus. With the credit repair process, most of your time is spent waiting for results.
Results When the results finally arrive, they arrive individually – one from each of the 3 credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Typically each response arrives in a plain white unmarked envelope. If you’re working with a client, be sure to have them forward these responses to you.
When you open the envelopes, usually you will find one of two things
1. A stall letter OR
2. An actual investigation. —-> If its a stall letter, read it and based on it’s contents you can figure out what to do next.
—-> If its an investigation result – it generally will look like this:
— A couple pages of consumer disclosures advising you of your rights.
— A blank page, intentionally left blank.
— A full or partial credit report.
— An investigation results page, listing the accounts which were investigated, along with the outcome of each investigation. The ladder, the investigation results page is what you’re looking for.
We are going to dig a little deeper on this in the next less. So for now, I’d like you to read all the text in this page, then do the quiz, and I’ll see you in the next lesson.
End of Lesson 5
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