According to the Federal Trade Commission, about 20% of people have at least one error on their credit report. Errors can lower your credit score and cost you money. If you’re trying to get a handle on your credit score, correcting errors on your report can help you get lower interest rates.
Get Your Credit Report
Legally, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report each year from each of the credit reporting agencies. The website, AnnualCreditreport.com, is authorized by federal law to provide these free reports. You do not have to pay for a “free” credit report. You can also get a free credit report if you are denied credit. It’s recommended to check your credit report every year.
Review Your Report For These Types of Errors
Once you have your credit reports, you should go over each of the them for these types of errors:
- Incorrect personal information, misspelled name, wrong address, incorrect Social Security number, etc.
- Accounts belonging to another person who has the same name as yours.
- Accounts that don’t belong to you or that you didn’t open.
- Closed accounts that are being reported as open, or open accounts that are being reported as closed.
- Duplicate accounts.
- Accounts with late payments when you were on time.
- Accounts with an incorrect balance or credit limit.
- Errors that you corrected but have been added back onto your report.
- Duplicate collection accounts.
- Negative information that is more than seven years old. (Bankruptcy information can remain on the report for 10 years.)
Filing a dispute about errors on your credit report does not cost you anything except time. You will need to contact the credit bureau that has incorrect information. Although you can do this online, you will want to have a paper trail. It’s recommended to send a letter in the mail with your supporting documentation to dispute the information. Also, you should write a different letter for each error on your report. On the credit report, you should have information on how to file and where to send a dispute.
The Federal Trade Commission offers a sample dispute letter that you can use as a template. Make a copy for your records. Send in a copy of your report with the item circled. You may want to include copies of documents that prove the error. Never send originals to the credit bureau. Mail the information by certified mail. The credit bureau has 30 days to investigate.
Once the credit bureau completes its investigation, you will get the results in writing. If the dispute results in a change to your report, you will receive another free copy of your credit report. If the credit bureau cannot verify the account, it might be deleted from your report. If the credit bureau denies your dispute, you may have to resubmit the dispute with supporting information. You do have the option of adding a consumer statement to your report, but some experts believe that this isn’t the best way of handling it. If it’s an older account, just wait for the account to drop off. The statement won’t be counted in your credit score, so it won’t do any good.
Contact Your Lenders
As you are correcting your credit report, it is a good idea to contact the lender who is reporting information to the credit bureaus. You want to fix the error at the source, because the error could show up again when the lender reports information to the bureaus. The Federal Trade Commission offers a sample letter to dispute information with lenders.
Are You a Victim of Fraud?
If you have many errors on your report due to fraud or identity theft, you may need assistance from a credit repair service or identity theft repair service. The process can be painstakingly slow and complicated. When you’re dealing with multiple errors, it can be frustrating and expensive. It is important to monitor your credit report to get better rates on insurance and loans.
Partner With an Expert in Credit
Your credit report should contain accurate information to give you the best chance for financial opportunities. Checking your credit report annually and correcting errors is one way to protect your financial health. Coast Tradelines offers reliable ways to boost your credit score. Contact us to see if our tradelines can help you.