Student Credit Repair

Repairing your credit begins with the correction of incorrect items on your credit report. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once every 12 months, take advantage of it at AnnualCreditReport.com. Once you've obtained a copy of your credit report, review it for accuracy. Make sure that the accounts listed on your credit report are accounts that you are aware of. Also make sure that all of the activity on those accounts that has been reported is accurate.

Know your rights

Under the law, both the credit bureaus and the organization that provided the information to the credit bureaus, such as a bank or credit card company, have responsibilities for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To protect all your rights under the law, contact both the credit bureaus and the information provider if you have a dispute. Once your credit is repaired, you will improve your chances of qualifying for a private student loan and you will be eligible for lower private student loan rates.

How to request a correction on your credit report

Tell the credit bureaus in writing what information you believe is inaccurate. Include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each item in your report you dispute, state the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and request deletion or correction. You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled. Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the credit bureaus received. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.

Credit bureaus must reinvestigate the item(s) in question—usually within 30 days—unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all relevant data you provide about the dispute to the information provider. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the credit bureaus, it must investigate, review all relevant information provided by the credit bureaus, and report the results to the credit bureaus. If the information provider finds the disputed information to be inaccurate, it must notify all nationwide credit bureaus so that they can correct this information in your file.

Disputed information that cannot be verified must be deleted from your file

If your report contains inaccurate information, the credit bureaus must correct it.

If an item is incomplete, the credit bureaus must complete it. For example, if your file showed that you were late making payments, but failed to show that you were no longer delinquent, the credit bureaus must show that your payments are now current. Another example is if your file shows an account that belongs to another person, the credit bureaus must delete it. You can get more information on exactly what to do to correct your report from the Federal Trade Commission.

When the reinvestigation is complete, the credit bureaus must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or removed, the credit bureaus cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies its accuracy and completeness, and the credit bureaus gives you a written notice of its intent to reinsert the items that includes the name, address, and phone number of the provider.

Adding accounts to your file

Your credit file may not reflect all your credit accounts. Although most national department store and all-purpose bank credit card accounts will be included in your file, not all creditors supply information to credit bureaus: Some travel, entertainment, gasoline card companies, local retailers, and credit unions are among those creditors that don't.

This is important especially for people that have a limited credit history because each account that you have on your report will help you build your credit. If you've been told that you were denied credit because of an "insufficient credit file" or "no credit file" and you have accounts with creditors that don't appear in your credit file, ask the credit bureaus to add this information to future reports. Although they are not required to do so, many credit bureaus will add verifiable accounts for a fee. However, understand that if these creditors do not report to the credit bureaus on a regular basis, the added items will not be updated in your file.

After inaccuracies are corrected get the corrected information to places that have reviewed your credit

If you request, the credit bureaus must send notices of any correction to anyone who received your report in the past six months. You can have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes. If a reinvestigation does not resolve your dispute, ask the credit bureaus to include your statement of the dispute in your file and in future reports.

In addition to writing to the credit bureaus, you should tell the creditor or other information provider in writing that you dispute an item. Be sure to include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider continues to report the disputed item to any credit bureaus after receiving your notice, it must include a notice that you dispute the item. If you are correct-that is, if the information is not accurate-the information provider may not report it again.

Negative reports on your credit can be fixed over time

When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. Accurate negative information generally can stay on your report for seven years. There are certain exceptions:

  • Bankruptcy information may be reported for 10 years.
  • Credit information reported in response to an application for a job with a salary of more than $75,000 has no time limit.
  • Information about criminal convictions has no time limit.
  • Credit information reported because of an application for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance has no time limit.
  • Default information concerning U.S. Government insured or guaranteed student loans can be reported for seven years after certain guarantor actions.
  • Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.

Seven-year reporting period

There is a standard method for calculating the seven-year reporting period. Generally, the period runs from the date that the event took place.

With regard to any delinquent account placed for collection-internally or by referral to a third-party debt collector, whichever is earlier-charged to profit and loss, or subjected to any similar action, the seven-year period is calculated from the date of the delinquency that occurred immediately before the collection activity, charge to profit and loss, or similar action. For example, assume that your payments on a loan were late in January, but that you caught up in February. You were late again in May, but caught up in July. You were again late in September, but did not catch up before the account was turned over to a collection agency in December. You made no more payments on the account, and it is charged to profit and loss in July of the following year.

Under the FCRA, the January and May late payments each can be reported for seven years. The collection activity and the charge to profit and loss can be reported for seven years from the date of the September payment, which was the delinquency that occurred immediately before those activities.