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Dispute your Credit Report

Although you may already be in trouble financially, you may still be able to avoid bankruptcy. Below are some measures that may be appropriate for you in your particular situation.

Dispute Your Credit Report

If your credit report shows debts incorrectly attributed to you, then there’s a way to get those removed from your credit report without filing for bankruptcy.

There are three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and Transunion. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of these agencies. Most of your debts will be listed on all three, but not always. Some creditors, particularly medical, only list with one or two of the agencies, but not all three.

You should request a copy of your credit report from each of these agencies at least once a year. It might be helpful to space this out in four month intervals so that you can monitor your credit throughout the year. You should immediately dispute anything on your account that looks suspicious, that might be over 10 years old, or that looks like it might not belong to you. Believe it or not, this simple process, though time consuming, can raise your credit score in a matter of days. It is worth the time.

You should also monitor your credit reports for evidence of fraud, mistakes or identity theft. Identity theft is usually associated with criminals rifling through your trash, but it may also be as simple as a clerical error in your social security number. Such a mistake can have major implications for you as a consumer and your ability to get student loans, car loans, home loans, etc. A mistaken social security number can also add debts to your credit report. You should dispute those immediately. If you are afraid that you have become a victim of identity theft, you should immediately alert your bank, your credit card companies, anyone else with whom you may have a line of credit, and file an alert with all three credit reporting agencies.

Finally, in some cases where you have taken out a line of credit with local businesses, you may be able to contact your local Better Business Bureau to dispute any errors you may feel have been accredited to your account. The BBB in most places will ask the creditor to respond to the complaint.

Settle with the Creditor

In some cases, you may be able to settle a debt for less than what is owed, either in one cash lump sum or in payments. You don’t need an attorney to do this, but get the settlement IN WRITING. Don’t settle anything or send any money unless you have a written letter from the creditor that says the creditor will settle the debt for the agreed upon amount. The settlement will depend upon your ability to negotiate the deal with the creditor. Always document in writing the terms of any settlement. Be wary of any creditor or collection agency that uses high pressure sales tactics, such as “This deal is only good until xxx number of days.” Or, you “must wire us the money be tomorrow or the deal is off.” You can save yourself a lot of trouble by telling them right now, “I won’t be pressured and the deal is off right now.” Do not fall for these familiar high pressure sales tactic.

Dana A. Ehrlich

Dana A. Ehrlich is a bankruptcy specialist who lives and works in San Angelo, Texas and he is able to discuss alternatives to bankruptcy with you. He has lived in the Concho Valley and San Angelo, Tom Green County for many years. His practice is primarily consumer bankruptcy law and he is a board certified bankruptcy specialist for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. He may be reached at 325-655-5351 or at

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