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How Do I Dispute an Incorrectly Reported Account?

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I open an account with Lord and Taylor in 1989 and in 2000 I closed my account and make arrangement with the company and made my payments until my balance was in zero. In 2009 I receive phone calls asking me if I had an account with Lord & Taylor and I said yes, they asked me for my address and then, I start receiving letters saying that I owed to Lord & Taylor about 134 dollars, I respond and I said that I paid and I don’t have any balance with them. They continue sending me letters and phone calls, until one day I spoke with them and said that they will send me a letter that that balance is not mine, but I never received. After few months I start receiving phone calls from other collecting agent saying that now I owe them 196.66 dollars. Today I called Lord & Taylor and they transfer me with GE Services and they told me that the account was sold to another collecting agency. Firstly, if I know that I left an amount with Lord & Taylor I shoul d pay years ago, but is strange that I never received a bill from Lord & Taylor saying that I have a debt with them after I paid everything and I only receive from Collection companies this amount. I called and I really mad because I can’t pay something that is not mine, of course that this amount was reported to my credit report and is affecting strongly my score. What I can do?? Please I want to get out of this.

Norma Lema

ANSWER Norma:

If  you absolutely can’t get any information from the collection agencies or from Lord & Taylor (and it sounds like you have tried) regarding the account, you probably need to just dispute it with the credit bureau. This is actually a much simpler process than trying to chase down which collection agency claims to have the account.

First, you need to request credit reports from all three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. If the account is reported with all three bureaus, you will need to dispute the account with all three. If anything, you will also have access to the information for whichever collection agency is reporting it.

Next, although you can dispute accounts on your credit report  online, it may be better to mail a dispute letter along with the facts and details of the account you had with Lord & Taylor. Include the account information and the reasons it is being reported inaccurately.  Also send copies of any records, in your case if you have the last statement that you paid with Lord & Taylor and bank statements showing the payment, you should be able to have the account removed from your file immediately. Send the dispute letters certified return receipt requested.

The credit bureau will investigate usually within 30 days and will forward your dispute to the information provider. If the collection agency cannot verify the information or concludes that the information reported is inaccurate, they are required to report back to the credit bureau and will have to remove the file from your report as well as notify all three credit bureaus of the change or deleted file. Once the account has been removed from your file, the collection agency cannot add the account back to your credit report unless they verify that the information is accurate and complete, in which case you’ll receive the information as well.

Another point you may want to add is that collection accounts can only be reflected as negative marks  on your credit report  for 7 years from the time you made a late payment or the account went to collections. Depending upon when your account first went to collections, the credit reporting agencies may remove this from your report simply because it’s past the 7 year mark.

If anything, you will get the information regarding the account you have been trying to attain and you can go from there, but it sounds like an account that the credit bureaus will quite possibly just remove.

Good luck!

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2 Responses to “How Do I Dispute an Incorrectly Reported Account?”

  1. Carnival of Personal Finance #254: Inspiring Quotes Says:

    […] Coverage Through Credit Cards: Use Those Perks. Mr. Credit Card from Ask Mr. Credit Card presents How Do I Dispute an Incorrectly Reported Account. Austin from Foreigner’s Finances presents How to Improve Your Credit While Living Abroad, […]

  2. Betty Wong Says:

    I feel that punishing me for forgetting to pay my bill one time is harsh. I’ve only forgotten to pay it ONCE and think that 7 years to clear it is very harsh

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