If you’ve read some of our articles regarding disputing negative items on your credit report, you may have noticed that we have discussed the Method of Verification a few times. Method of Verification is a consumers legal right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act section 611 (a) (7).
This section states that:
A consumer reporting agency shall provide to a consumer a description referred to in paragraph 6Biii [the section requiring reinvestigation] by not later than 15 days after receiving a request from the consumer for that description.
This means that when you dispute inaccurate items on your credit report and the CRA (Credit Reporting Agency)/Credit Bureau claims to ‘verify’ the items (verify that they are accurate), then you can then request that they provide you with the method they used to verify those inaccurate items.
How To Use Method Of Verification to Fix Your Credit
If you’ve pulled your own credit report using AnnualCreditReport.com or any credit monitoring service, and then you’ve disputed inaccurate items listed on that report, then you should have received a response from that CRA (credit reporting agency), whether that was a deletion letter stating that the item(s) were deleted or a letter stating that the item(s) have been verified as accurate.
Now that you have a response from that CRA, then you can then determine whether or not you need to take more action. If the item(s) were deleted, you no longer have to take any action for those items. However, if they have verified that items did belong to you — then you need to take action, such as either a) sending another letter, similar to the one you sent before (minus the deleted items) or b) send a Method of Verification letter.
This letter (example here) will state that you are requesting the CRA to provide you with a complete copy of the information they used to investigate those item(s) and how they used it to determine that the inaccurate items belonged to you.
Now, according to FCRA Section 611 (a) (7), the CRA has 15 days to comply with this Federal Law. If they do not comply with this law, you can then send them another letter informing them that you intend to submit a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which will then result in an investigation into the matter. The CRA will usually comply before this happens, but this could be another way to get inaccurate items removed if they still fail to comply with Federal Laws.
Step By Step Approach
1. Dispute the inaccurate information
2. If items are verified or simply not acknowledged, then you can write or call the CRA in question. It’s best to hand write letters so that you can document all attempts made by you to have the CRA to remove the inaccurate items.
3. In your method of verification letter (or call) ask for the method of verification per the FCRA section 611 (a) (7). Be sure to send this letter by Certified Mail with request receipt return so that you can document your attempt to remove the items.
4. They will need to either send you a complete copy of the information they used in their investigation that helped them verify the items or they will need to delete the items immediately. They will have 15 days to comply with the law.
5. If they fail to comply with federal law, then you can send a new letter that explains to them that you will file a formal complaint with the FTC, which will then result in an investigation by the FTC. They do not want that, so they will usually comply from here. The letter should state that if they do not comply you will file the complaint and they need to comply quickly. Again, send via Certified Mail with receipt.
6. If they still fail to comply with federal law, then file the FTC complaint.
Be sure to document every letter with certified mail (with return receipt) so that you can have documented proof of everything for further use, just in case.
Method of Verification is a great way to catch these CRA’s not complying with the laws (FCRA) that were established to help protect consumers’ credit files. Since most utilize the e-OSCAR system, they will not do much as far as investigating, usually relying on 3rd party database information as a part of their investigation(s). MoV forces these CRA’s to provide proof that they did an actual investigation or else they’ll need to remove the inaccurate items (accounts), as stated by the law.
In many cases, Method of Verification will not be needed. However, it can be a great way to finally get inaccurate items removed if the CRA is not responsive with your requests to remove the inaccurate items listed on your credit report. Educating yourself about these laws can be very beneficial.