Just a few negative entries on your credit report can damage your credit score. If those entries are the result of a creditor reporting inaccurate information, you'll need to contact the creditor to get it removed. While you might want to fix the problem with a phone call, writing a letter documents your efforts in a way a phone call doesn't.
Begin With the Basics
Regardless of whether your letter seeks to remove accurate or inaccurate information, start with information that identifies who you are. Provide your name, address and the last four digits of your Social Security number to verify your identity. Include the account in question and the specific item you want removed from your report. Whoever receives the letter will be able to tell quickly what the disputed account is and what you're asking him to do.
To remove inaccuracies, state why you dispute the information and cite any relevant facts supporting your case. If you have copies of documents that provide additional support to your position, such as paid bills or proof that disputed charges were incurred by an unauthorized user or identity thief, include those. Send this letter via certified mail with return receipt requested. Request politely but firmly that the negative information be removed right away.
Older Legitimate Debt
Creditors don't have to remove legitimate debt from your report, but it never hurts to ask. If the delinquencies are older and you're still a customer, note in your letter that the negative entries happened months or years ago and request they be deleted to better reflect your current ability to pay. If you still do significant business with the creditor, say that you're willing to take your business elsewhere if they won't consider it. If you use a credit card for business expenses on a regular basis, for example, you may find the issuer willing to work with you on removing older negative entries to keep you as a customer.
For current outstanding debt, your letter may request that negative reporting be removed from your record as part of a settlement. An as example, you might offer a lump sum payment to settle your account on the condition that negative statements about past delinquencies will no longer be reported. Request written confirmation that this arrangement has been agreed to, and check your credit report to confirm that the creditor has removed the entries as agreed.
Dealing with collection agencies can be more problematic. Once you receive correspondence from such an agency demanding payment, write to request a settlement in which the negative reporting is removed as a condition of repayment. Some agencies may say only the original creditors can remove the negative debt. If they do, ask the agent to give you the contact information for the person at the original credit-granting agency with the power to remove the negative information. Use that information to write a letter pleading your case.