Did you know that roughly a quarter of credit reports have errors in them? If you find a mistake on your report, we have the steps you need to fix it!
Mistakes you may find on your credit report:
Credit report errors are quite common. In fact, 26% of participants in a study by the Federal Trade Commission found at least one error on their credit reports that brought down their score. A lower score can mean getting hit with higher interest rates on loans, and can prove to be an obstacle when applying for a new line of credit or a large loan.
Most of these errors can be traced back to clerical mistakes, though some are caused by a lack of action on your part, or by criminal activity. Credit report errors include the following:
- You are mistakenly identified as someone with a name similar to yours.
- A credit account was never included in your report, weakening your perceived credit worthiness.
- Your loan or credit card payments were applied to the wrong account.
- A legitimate credit account or debt has been reported and recorded multiple times.
- Your name is still linked to your ex-partner’s accounts and debts.
- Identity thieves have used your name and credit file to open accounts and take out loans you knew nothing about – and it’s unlikely they have been making payments on those loans.
Step 1: File a dispute with each of the major credit bureaus.
You will need to inform all three major credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, about the error. All three bureaus allow you to file disputes online.
In your written dispute, you will need to clearly identify each disputed item in your report, explain why you are disputing these items and ask that the errors be corrected. Include your full contact information, as well as copies of any documents that support your claim. You can also include a copy of your credit report, highlighting the items you are disputing.
You can also file your disputes by mail to Equifax and TransUnion; Experian currently accepts online disputes only. If filing by mail, it’s best to send your letter via certified mail with a requested return receipt. It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of your correspondence for your own records.
Step 2: Contact the creditor
After you have contacted each bureau, you can also reach out to the creditor that’s linked to the error in your report. This step isn’t necessary, but it may speed up the correction process.
Most creditors will provide a link or an address for disputes. When filing your dispute, follow the guidelines above and include all relevant information and documentation. Be sure to let the creditor know you have also contacted the credit bureaus, as they will want to include this information and a copy of your dispute if they report their findings to the bureaus. You can also ask to be copied on all correspondences between the creditor and the bureaus.
Step 3: Follow up in 30 days
Expect to be contacted by the bureaus and the creditor within 30 days after filing your disputes. If all goes well, your dispute will be accepted and your credit will be restored. In many states, you are eligible to receive a complimentary credit report following a registered dispute.
If one of the credit bureaus or a creditor refuses to accept your dispute or does not resolve the error in your favor, you can ask the bureau or creditor to include a copy of your dispute in your file and in all future credit reports. This way, a lender or creditor will be made aware of the alleged error when reviewing your credit. You may be charged a small fee for this service, but it is generally worth the price.
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