Wise bread picks
There are several obvious reasons to worry about your creditworthiness and very few reasons why you should ignore them. Finally, if you are ever planning to buy a home or take out a car loan, you will need a good credit score and a solid credit rating. A bad credit score can even come back to bite you when looking to rent an apartment or apply for certain jobs.
But your score isn’t the only detail to look out for. You’ll also need to keep an eye on your credit report – the document that lists your formal credit history, including any accounts you’ve opened, balances due, and payments you’ve made.
Your report and your score are closely related. If bad information gets on your credit report due to fraud or misreporting, it can easily cause your creditworthiness to plummet. Likewise, having a clear credit report with nothing but true (and positive) information can help your credit score rise to heights.
For this reason, every year you should get a free copy of your credit report from all three credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Fortunately, this part is easy to do via AnnualCreditReport.com.
How to dispute information in your credit report
Once you have a copy of your credit report from all three bureaus, be sure to double-check all of the details to make sure they are correct. Some of the incorrect information you may notice on your report include:
- Errors related to your name or personal information
- Accounts that aren’t even yours
- Accounts owned by someone whose name is similar to yours
- Closed accounts that are reported as open
- Incorrectly reported late payments
- Accounts listed more than once
- Incorrect account balances
- Incorrect credit limits for accounts
Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), both the credit bureau and whoever provides them with information are responsible for correcting any misinformation in your credit report. This means that if a particular retailer or bank reports an account that is not yours or has an incorrect balance, then both the credit bureau and the retailer or bank will have to work together to get things right.
If you find a bug, here are some steps you should take right away:
With the wrong information, inform the credit bureau of the error
The first step that you should take is to let the credit reporting agency know about your mistake. Be aware that not all credit reporting agencies may have the same information. You should inform them in writing of the bug, taking special care to list important details of the bug with proper documentation. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) even offers a sample letter you can use if you need help.
Note that credit reporting agencies typically have 30 days to investigate your claim and they will need to get back to you with a response. You will also need to relay the information you send to the provider who shared the information with you in the first place.
Notify the person who provided the information about the error
You also want to provide copies of any documentation to the company reporting the wrong information to show that an error has occurred. Make sure you include all of the details necessary to prove your claim, as well as copies of the documentation that is backing you up. The FTC has another example of a dispute letter that you can use for this instance.
Make sure your credit report is updated
Generally, credit reporting agencies will need to provide you with written notice of the outcome of your case. They are also legally required to give you another free copy of your credit report if your dispute has caused a permanent change.
You also have the option to ask the credit bureau to send corrections to anyone who requested your credit report within the last six months. You can even have an updated copy sent to anyone who has asked for a revised version of your credit report for employment reasons.
Take care of your credit
While the above steps may sound like a chore, it’s important to understand the harm that incorrect information can do on your credit report. For example, if you have inaccurate late payments on your report, you may find that your credit score is going down through no fault of your own. And if your credit report has accounts that aren’t even yours, it could mean a much bigger problem; B. direct identity theft.
Fortunately, the small amount of time it takes to tackle an item on your credit report can pay off greatly. Finally, any negative information that you can clear should stop pulling your score down right away.
However, you should also keep in mind that you can only remove false negative information from your credit reports. Any harmful information that is true must remain on your report until sufficient time has passed. In general, negative information and reports can remain on your credit report for up to seven years, and bankruptcy can remain on your report for ten years.
The final result
Errors happen all the time and they may never be revealed if you don’t find them yourself. In addition to keeping track of your credit reports, it can be helpful to sign up for a free service that will notify you of new accounts on your behalf or any fluctuations in your credit score. CreditKarma.com and CreditSesame.com are two that offer a similar free service with these features. Therefore, both are worth a visit.
Do you like this article? Pin it!