Whether you realize it or not, your credit report is very important. Anytime you want to get a new credit card, apply for a loan for a home or for education or purchase a car, lenders look at your credit report to determine if you’re a good candidate. Your credit report is also used to determine your credit limit and interest rate, if you can rent an apartment and in some cases, even can impact whether or not you are hired for a job. Fixing any wrong information on your credit report is vital. Here is how to fix errors on your credit report.
How to Fix Errors on Your Credit Report
Find out if you have any errors on your credit report. How would you ever fix your credit report if you don’t see it to know that there are errors? You wouldn’t. Fortunately, in the United States, each of the three nationwide companies are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report every 12 months (so once per year). These three credit reporting include Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Request copies of your credit report. Each of these credit reporting companies have a website you can order your report from. Visit annualcreditreport.com. You’ll need to provide your full name, address, social security number, date of birth, and a previous address if you have moved within the last two years. You’ll also be asked a series of questions, like the amount of your mortgage payment or about a car loan you took out in previous years. This is simply to confirm that it is you and avoid your information falling into the wrong hands.
If you don’t feel comfortable requesting your credit report online, you can also call 1-877-322-8228. If you choose to, you may also fill out the Annual Credit Report Request Form. You then mail the form to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Order your reports throughout the year. Since you can receive three credit reports per year, consider spacing it out to get one every few months to monitor your report. This way you will be aware of any errors in your report quicker than if you just waited and checked your report once per year.
Look for errors on your credit report. Once you get your credit report, go over it carefully. Be sure you understand and take ownership of each account. If there is an account there that isn’t yours, you will need to report it. For example, if there is a Discover credit card balance of $5,000, and you never had a Discover card, this is an obvious error that needs to be addressed. Another mistake that you should watch for is accounts that are yours, but have incorrect information. For example, you may have a Visa card, but it is possible they have listed you had a late payment when you actually did not. Or they may say you owe more than you actually do. These are also mistakes that could be negatively impacting your credit and need to be reported.
Review your credit card statements. Every month, be sure to look at your credit card statements as well. While there is much more information in your report than just your current credit cards, monitor what you can. If you see any charges you want to dispute, call the credit company immediately. They can help you solve this issue before it gets reported to your credit report. In addition, you can use companies like Credit Sesame that provide free credit monitoring.
Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report
The Federal Trade Commission offers helpful advice on how to deal with errors on your credit report. Here is what they suggest to do when you find errors on your credit report:
Send a letter to the credit reporting agency. First, send a written letter to the credit reporting company, such as Experian or TransUnion. You will need to include your basic information including your full name (and the name that appears on your credit report), social security number, address and phone number. Be sure to include if you have moved recently and changed addresses. You should also include if you were recently married, divorced or changed your name for another reason. This will help avoid any confusion about your report.
Detail the account in question. Include the name of the creditor or information provider, account number associated with the incorrect debt, a copy of the pages from the report with highlights on the inaccurate information, a specific statement of what is inaccurate and how it should be corrected and a request that the items be corrected or deleted from your report. In your letter, write as much specific detail as possible. Try to remain clear and direct throughout the letter.
Send supporting documents. Also include copies of any documents that support your position, such as a receipt that you paid a balance off. Do not send originals as you will not get them back. Sending copies also allows you to be able to send them out elsewhere if you need to.
Keep a copy. Make copies of your letter for your records and keep track of when you send your letter.
Send by certified mail. Be sure to send your letter by certified mail so you will know when the company received it. If you don’t send it certified, there is no way of knowing for sure if the company has received your letter.
Have your corrected report sent out. You can also request that the credit reporting company send these corrections to anyone who requested your report within the last six months.
Mark the dispute. Even if they deny your claim that it is an error, while you are continuing to dispute it, you can request that they mark it in your report that you are currently disputing whatever it is. This way anyone that requests your report will then know that you are claiming that specific information is false.
Contact the company directly. Next, contact the account associated with this false debt. For example, if the credit reporting company, such as Experian says you have a $10,000 balance on a Visa credit card, you can also contact Visa to try to resolve the situation as well.
Have you ever found errors on your credit report? What did you do? How can people avoid errors on their credit reports?