Staying on top of your credit history is important for every consumer. One way to do that is to review the credit reports made available from each of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. While these agencies do their best to make sure your information is accurate, mistakes can happen in a number of ways. By reviewing the reports, consumers can catch inaccuracies more quickly.
What Can Go Wrong?
Saying that anything can happen with your credit report sounds kind of scary. But the truth is that inaccuracies on your credit report can be very serious and can prevent you from getting the loans you need. Here are a few examples of common errors found on credit reports:
- Other people’s information: Sometimes names, addresses, Social Security numbers, or employer information can look similar to someone else’s, resulting in their information getting on your report. This is especially common with family members who have the same or similar names.
- Old information: After a certain period, old information should be removed from your report such as closed credit card accounts, bankruptcies, and other debts. However, sometimes these items stay on your report longer than they should.
- Your ex’s information: After a divorce, you’ll want to make sure your former-spouse’s information isn’t showing up on your credit report. There may be situations where the debts are the responsibility of both party, but you’ll want to make sure this information is current.
- Settled delinquencies: When you’ve taken steps to pay off or settle a delinquent account, that information should be updated on your credit report. However, sometimes the report will still show the account as delinquent.
- Identity fraud: Thieves are out there, and they may use your information to open accounts.
Where Do I Start?
The first thing you need to do to fix errors on your consumer credit report is to know what you’re dealing with. You are entitled to one report from each of the bureaus per year, which you can order a copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. Once you have your report, review it for accuracy. These reports will indicate what amounts you owe, your credit lines with each lender, and whether you have paid on time.
What If I Find an Error?
If you see any information that’s not correct, or if you see debts that you are not yours, you’ll need to correct them.
- Report the error to the credit bureau. Identify which item(s) you are disputing, provide the facts and details as to why you are disputing it, and request that the item be either deleted or corrected. You may also include copies of any supporting documentation you have.
- Reach out to the lender. Your lender is responsible for reporting the information to the credit bureaus, so it’s important that you notify them of the error, too. Advise that you are disputing the record on your credit report and send copies of any documentation you have to support your position. You should also request that the creditor copy you on any correspondence to the credit bureau regarding the disputed charge.
- Be patient. It can take up to 30 days for your situation to be reviewed by the credit bureau and it may take up to three months for the issue to be resolved. You may be entitled to an additional free report from the credit bureau with which you disputed the charge in order to verify that the disputed charge has been rectified. This entitlement can vary by state, so it’s best to check with the specific credit bureau for more details.
Errors on your consumer credit report can mean the difference between getting a good loan, a bad loan, or no loan at all. If your credit report has errors, they can be bringing you down. Stay on top of your reports so you can stay on top of your score.
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