3 types of credit report errors to watch out for

It’s a good idea to check your credit report once every few months. And it’s especially important to check your credit report if you’re considering applying for a large loan, like a mortgage.

But when you review your credit report, you may come across some errors that you might want to correct. Here are some specific ones to keep on your radar.

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1. Past due debts already paid

Maybe you owed money on a credit card because you couldn’t make the minimum payments. Or maybe you’ve racked up medical debt when a series of bills hit at once. Sometimes people fall behind on their bills and these things cannot be helped. But if you’ve since paid off or settled the debt in question and it still shows up on your credit report as overdue years later, you’ll want to correct those mistakes.

2. Overdue debts that were never yours

It is one thing that your credit report lists as unpaid debt that you have accumulated. But you might be shocked to see an overdue account on your credit report that was never yours in the first place. You might see this happen if the person who actually holds this debt has the same name as you, or a similar Social Security number. Either way, this is the kind of mistake you’ll want to correct right away.

3. Open accounts that do not belong to you

You may see active accounts listed on your credit report that you have never opened, whether or not they are past due. If so, the information desk in question may simply have made a mistake. Or, it could be that someone has fraudulently opened a new account in your name and is testing the waters before accumulating a huge balance against it. Either way, you’ll want to investigate.

What to do if your credit report contains an error

If you find an error on your credit report, contact the office that issued that report and dispute the information. Credit bureaus are required to investigate all errors reported to them, usually within 30 days. From there, you will be notified of a resolution (or not). If the issue is not resolved, you can contact the bank or credit card company from which the disputed debt originated and try to resolve it directly. And if the case is resolved, your credit report should be updated to reflect this change.

Normally, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report each year from each of the three reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, you can get your credit reports for free once a week until April 2022.

While reading your credit report every week is usually not necessary, you should check your report more frequently if you spot an error or see a case of fraud. And in the latter situation, you may also want to consider putting in place a credit freeze to protect yourself. Negative information on your credit report can lower your credit score, making it harder to borrow money when you need it. It is therefore always a good idea to be vigilant in the face of errors.

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