Mistakes on your credit report can interfere with your ability to obtain credit when it comes to applying for a loan, buying a car or putting utility accounts in your name. A simple check of your credit report every three months will catch any errors before they become a problem. Errors do happen occasionally and can be solved by a simple process of filing a dispute with the credit reporting agency.
Your credit report is very important for your ability to borrow in the future. Therefore, it is vital that you check it frequently and report any mistakes right away. Anyone considering extending credit to you will check your report to see how you handle your financial obligations. Timely payments and current, up-to-date credit accounts provide assurance that you are a good credit risk to any lender.
Know Your Rights
The Federal Trade Commission filed a report that shows that one in five people have errors on their credit report. These errors may not be discovered until the person applies for a bank account, line of credit or car loan. The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides regulations for protecting the privacy of your credit file. As a consumer, you are entitled to certain rights under this act.
- You have the right to know what is in your credit file.
- You have the right to know if this information was used against you as a reason for denial of credit.
- You have the right to accurate information. If this information is not accurate you can dispute it and the reporting agency must take steps to correct legitimate errors.
What Things Can Be Disputed?
Accounts in the wrong name, accounts older than seven years or 10 years for bankruptcy, and any medical or other bills you can prove that are not yours can be corrected in your credit report. When the agency performs an investigation they will contact the creditor for information regarding the account to verify if it is correct. If there is no record of the debt on file or the information is inaccurate it will be removed after processing.
Here are the steps for disputing errors in your file:
Obtain a Copy of Your Credit Report
Every consumer is entitled you one free credit report each year. Go to https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp and fill out the online form. You will be asked to verify some personal information and give your name, address, social security number and date of birth for identity verification.
Once your identity has been verified, it will ask if you want reports from one or all three reporting agencies. There are three main reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. You can get a free report from each one.
When you receive your report, check it for accuracy and print a copy.
Provide Proof to Back up Your Claim
If there are errors in your report you will need to back up your claim with proof. Any documents you have that will prove your claim can be scanned and uploaded with the dispute claim form. Copies of canceled checks, paid bills and closed accounts will be sufficient in most cases.
File a Dispute with the Reporting Agency
On your credit report there is a page for filing disputes. They may offer you the option of calling the 800 number and filing it by phone, using the online web form or submitting a letter to their corporate office. The best options would be using the web form or sending them a letter, this way you can track the dates you contacted them and the information that was sent.
Once received, the agency has 30 to 45 days to investigate and correct the errors . They will notify you mail or email of the changes made.
Denial of credit can be devastating especially when you pay all your bills on time. Don’t let mistakes in your report keep you from buying your first house, car or engagement ring for that special someone. Check your credit report often and dispute errors to keep your hard-earned credit history in good standing.