How to Correct an Error on a Credit Report
Everyone gets judged by the content of his or her credit reports.
So it had better be right, especially if you´re planning to apply for a mortgage or a car loan any time soon. Errors on your credit report could hurt your chances of qualifying for a loan or force you to pay a higher interest rate than you deserve.
Your credit report contains detailed records of your credit and loan accounts, plus public records, collection records, your employment history, and even current and former addresses.
With everyone eyeing your credit report, from banks and lenders and credit card companies to potential employees, landlords, and even utility and cell phone companies, it´s important that every last record in your report be accurate.
And it´s up to you to make sure that happens. It´s a good idea to check your credit report at least once a year to look for errors.
Each of the three national credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, has its own distinct credit file on you. So each year, you´ll need to order and scrutinize each of the reports and correct any errors.
Ordering a credit report is easy! Thanks to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, you´re entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every 12 months. To request a free copy of your credit report, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
For step-by-step advice for ordering a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus, check out this article about annual credit reports from Credit.com.
To correct an error on a credit report, take the following steps:
Be sure to do it in writing when you can. Experian only allows for online disputing. In a letter, tell the credit bureaus in detail what information in your credit report you think is inaccurate and why. Request that the error be removed or corrected.
In your letter, you´ll want to identify each and every item in your credit report that you believe is incorrect. You may want to enclose a copy or your credit report with the disputed items circled. Include copies (not original documents) that support your position.
Don´t forget to include your complete name and mailing address in your letter. And make copies of the letter and accompanying documents for your records.
Send the dispute letter to the credit bureaus via certified mail, "Return Receipt Requested." That way you´ll have a record of when the credit bureaus received your letter. Here are the credit bureau contacts:
2. Wait for feedback.
A credit bureau must forward the information in your letter to the company that provided the information you are disputing. The company must investigate the item and report back to the credit bureau. If the company agrees that the disputed item is inaccurate, it must notify the three other national credit bureaus so they too can correct the information in each of your credit files.
Once an investigation is complete, the credit bureau will send you the results in writing. If an item on your credit report has been changed or corrected, you´ll also receive a free copy of your credit report. This free report will not count as your free annual report.
If you like, you may ask the credit bureaus to send a notice of the corrected items to any company that received your credit report in the past six months. And you may have a corrected copy of your credit report sent to any employer or potential employer who reviewed your credit report in the past two years.
You can request that a statement of the dispute be included in your credit report. In this brief statement, typically 100 words or less, you get to present your side of the story. That way a potential employer or lender will be aware of the disputed item and the efforts you made to correct it.
It´s also important to send a dispute letter to the company, bank, or credit card issuer that you believe is providing inaccurate information on you to a credit bureau.
Tell the company in detail why you dispute a specific item of information that they provided about you to a credit bureau. Include copies of all documents that support your position. Include your full name and mailing address and be sure to make a copy of the letter and any accompanying documents for your records.
Mail the letter to the specific company address that handles disputes. This address may be different from a company´s payment address. If you´re unsure of the mailing address for a dispute, call the company and ask.
Don´t delay with the mailing of this letter. Mail it at the same time as you send your dispute letter to a credit bureau.
The accuracy of your credit report is your responsibility. It is recommended to do a full personal credit check often and be assertive and persistent about correcting any errors you may find.
A high credit score often equals savings on loans and credit cards.
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