Eeven small mistakes on your credit report can cause big problems. A typo in your home address could make it difficult for you to get a copy of your credit report, for example. A bigger mistake, such as a creditor misreporting your financial information, could cause more serious problems.
This is why it is essential to check your credit report at least two or three times a year. When you do, check it out for errors, either in your personal information or in information reported by your creditors. If you find any errors, follow these steps to correct them:
First, find the errors
Due to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months.
You can get a free copy from each of the major reporting companies. So you could get your Equifax report in January, your Experian report in May, and your Transunion report in September. Repeat the following year and you will stay on top of your credit report.
You can get your free report online at www.annualcreditreport.com, by phone at 1-877-322-8228, or with the annual credit report request form.
The three ratios may be somewhat different. Although all of your major financial information is the same, sometimes there are discrepancies between your credit reports.
If you find a major error on your Equifax report, for example, you might want to extract your other two reports to see if they contain the same error. Even if you don’t have a free report available from the other two companies, it’s not too expensive to buy a copy.
The basics of correcting errors
When you correct a mistake on your credit report, document everything. While a minor mistake is unlikely to send you to court against a creditor or a credit bureau, strange things have happened.
You can better protect yourself by keeping everything in writing. Sending letters about the error – and keeping copies – is a good place to start. If you end up making phone calls, take lots of notes with each call. Be sure to mark dates, times, and other relevant details on conversations.
Also, stay calm. Dealing with the red tape and impersonal service often offered by large financial entities is frustrating. But you will solve this problem, and you will solve it faster if you are as pragmatic as possible.
Errors in your personal information
Errors in personal information on a credit report are quite common. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Here’s how to do it:
- Pull up on all three credit reports to see if they have the same error. If so, contact them all. (They don’t communicate with each other, so correcting an address error with Equifax does not mean the same error will be corrected with TransUnion.)
- Check with your creditors first to make sure they have your correct name, address, and other personal information. Sometimes the error lies in the information that creditors send to rating agencies. In addition, it is always a good idea to make sure that current creditors have this correct information.
- Send a letter or complete the online dispute form for the agency with the incorrect information. If you are sending a letter, add supporting evidence: copies of invoices or other official letters should do the trick.
Whenever you correct personal information, give them a month or two to withhold it. Although credit bureaus are required to review inaccuracy claims in a timely manner, it may take some time for the claim to be processed and the information to be changed.
Correction of other errors
There are several types of common credit report errors, including:
- Information from another person with a name or address similar to yours
- Information left behind by a battle against identity theft
- Information from a former spouse
- Incorrect payment status on an account
- Multiple late dates for an account, which can happen if an account is transferred to a debt collector
- Bad ratings for closed accounts (it may seem like the creditor cut you off, when you really chose to close the account)
- Corrected unreported offenses
Some of these problems are minor and easy to resolve. Under the right circumstances, however, any of these common problems could be enough to ruin your credit score. So here’s what to do if you find incorrect information from your creditors on your report:
- Gather documents that support your position. For example, if you’ve paid an overdue account, look for a payment receipt that includes the date. Circle the relevant information on your documents so that they are easy to find. Always send copies, not originals.
- Attach supporting documents to a dated professional letter at the credit bureau. The letter might look like this one from the FTC.
- Keep copies the letter and supporting documents, and write down the date you mailed them.
- Inform your creditor, either online, by phone or by mail. Which option you choose will depend on the type of creditor. You can search online or call your creditor to find a number or address specific to credit disputes.
- Wait. The FTC typically requires credit reporting companies to investigate the issue within 30 days, unless they find your dispute frivolous. Once the investigation is complete, they will give you the results of the investigation and a free copy of your credit report if the dispute changes it.
- Send copies of your updated report, if necessary. If the error on your credit report has prevented you from getting a lease, loan, or job recently, ask the credit reporting company to send a free copy of your report to anyone who has it. obtained in the last six months. You can request that copies of your report be sent to anyone who has retrieved it for employment in the past two years.
Alternatively, you can use the credit bureau’s online dispute system. Find online dispute forms for Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at the links.
Sometimes you will need to take extra steps to correct an error in your report, especially if a creditor insists the information is correct. While the need for additional action is unusual, it does happen. If you go through this process multiple times without success, it may be time to consider hiring a lawyer to help you with the more complex process of suing a creditor or a credit bureau for reporting information. inaccurate.
Your credit report rights
During this process, it is ideal to understand and exercise your rights as a consumer when dealing with the credit bureau. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act:
- You have the right to be informed if the information in your file has been used against you. If you are denied a job, insurance, loan, or anything else because of your credit report, you need to be notified. You can also get a free copy of your report in these situations.
- You have the right to know what is in your file. You can get a free report once a year, or when someone has taken adverse action against you because of your report, when you are a victim of identity theft, when you are on public assistance, or when you are unemployed but hoping to apply for a job within two months.
- You have the right to claim your digital credit score even though you will have to pay for it.
- You have the right to challenge incomplete or inaccurate information in the ways listed above.
- If you prove that any information is inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable, credit bureaus should correct or remove it from your file.
- Consumer news agencies cannot report negative information that is out of date. Most negative information is out of date after seven years, and bankruptcies are out of date after 10 years.
- Your credit report can only be given to people who need to see it, and you must give employers or potential employers written consent to withdraw your report.
- You can unsubscribe from pre-selected credit and insurance offers by calling a toll-free number provided with those offers.
- You can claim damages from people or companies who violate these rights.
- If you are an active military or a victim of identity theft, you may have more rights than these.
That’s a lot of information, but it can help you correct errors on your credit report. If it’s been a while since you last checked your report, don’t delay. The sooner you find and correct mistakes, the better your credit will be.
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