Way back in 1970, the Fair Credit Reporting Act was passed to help the common consumer battle against the absolutely unfair reporting practices of the three major credit bureaus. TransUnion, Equifax and Experian were (and still are) the power houses in credit reporting. They took credit history information from creditors about the people they had lent money to, with no investigation to the accuracy, and put it on the consumers' credit reports, no questions asked.
This created an environment on mistrust on the part of the consumer. More often than not, you would find erroneous information on your credit report (The US PIRG did a survey that concluded that 79% of all credit reports had errors on them). And any consumer that would find misinformation on their credit report would be essentially stuck with it.
Since the FCRA was enacted, consumers could dispute items on their credit reports. For the first time, the credit bureaus would have to investigate the accuracy of the information reported from the creditors. The creditors would have thirty days to provide prove, or the bureau would remove it.
Victims of identity theft, prejudice, bias or plain erroneous practices would now have a chance to show their accurate information on their credit report.
Along the way, as in any form of business, unscrupulous practicers of credit repair came along, asking for large sums of money before doing anything, promises huge results when the outcome cannot be guaranteed. These are the scumbags of credit repair. They are the snake oil salesmen of an industry few understand. They are who the FTC cracks down on, not the legitimate practicers of credit repair.
What kind of negative items on your credit report can you dispute with the credit bureaus? This is where the FCRA becomes very specific: Any item that you find could be inaccurate, misleading, biased, or simply unverifiable, can be disputed. Can you simply send a letter asking for the investigation to be opened? The problem is the bureaus have set up an entire filtering system to keep their employees from doing work they don't get paid for. This is called a stall system, which is why many people turn to a professional for help.
About Author / Additional Info:
Matt Triplett has consulted with many credit repair firms, and has his own site at http://archercredit.net, filled with credit repair tips and resources for do-it-yourselfers, and those who want to hire a top-notch, legitimate firm to help them repair their credit.