If You Find An Error On Your Credit Report You Should Fix It Before Your Credit Score Takes Some Serious Damage
You’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to check your regularly for errors or signs of fraud. If your report contains late payments that you’re sure you made on time, unwarranted collections accounts, or even fraudulent credit accounts, then your credit score could take a serious hit. But do you know what to do once you’ve spotted such problems?
Here’s a simple how-to for spotting and resolving errors in your credit report.
Review Your Credit Reports For Errors
Your are based on information provided by companies to the three major credit bureausExperian, Equifax and Transunion. To identify which credit reports contain errors, you have to review each report separately. You can do this by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Due to Covid-19, you can view all three of your reports for free weekly through April 20, 2022.
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Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. has helped thousands of consumers with credit report errors that go ignored. We know the laws, we know your rights, and we will fight for you. Fill out our form for a free case review or call us now at 1-877-735-8600 to see if you have a case. Get free expert legal advice with no obligation and no out of pocket costs to you. We work out the details with you ahead of time and we only get paid when we win for you.
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What Happens After You Dispute Information On Your Credit Report
If you suspect that the error on your report is a result of identity theft, visit IdentityTheft.gov, the federal governments one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft.
If the furnisher corrects your information after your dispute, it must notify all of the credit reporting companies it sent the inaccurate information to, so they can update their reports with the correct information.
If the furnisher determines that the information is accurate and does not update or remove the information, you can request the credit reporting company to include a statement explaining the dispute in your credit file. This statement will be included in future reports and provided to whoever requests your credit report.
Follow Up After The Investigation
Heres what to expect when the investigation is complete:
- The results of the investigation, in writing, from the credit reporting bureau.
- A free copy of your credit report, if the report has changed.
What about parties who have seen your incorrect information? You can ask the credit bureaus to notify them of the corrections, the FTC says. This includes:
- Notifying anyone who received your report in the past six months.
- Sending a corrected copy of your report to anyone who received it in the past two years.
But what if the investigation doesnt resolve your dispute? If the furnisher continues to report the error, you can ask the credit bureaus to include a statement in your credit file that describes your side of the dispute and it will be included in future credit reports. For a fee, you can usually ask the credit bureau to send a copy of the statement to anyone who has recently received a copy of your report.
Also, if you believe you were treated unfairly or a valid error remains on your credit report, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB is required to forward the complaint to the company with which you have an issue. The CFPB usually will provide you with a response within 15 days.
How long can it take for an error to be corrected on your credit report after the dispute is resolved? Credit bureaus have five business days after finishing their investigation to notify you of the results.
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Fixing A Credit Report Mistake If Youve Been The Victim Of Identity Theft
Question: I have a debt from a credit card that I have been disputing with credit bureaus and the card issuer for years. I cannot get it removed. I have welcoming paperwork from the card issuer with an address that was not my legal address due to identity theft. Ive sent them a copy of my lease with the correct address but still cant get removed. How can I get this removed?
Gail in Rhode Island
Why Do Mistakes Happen On Your Credit Report
No matter why a mistake appears on your credit report, there are a number of steps you can take to dispute it and correct it. You can dispute credit report errors directly with the credit issuer i.e. the lender, credit card company or collection agency that issued the information. You can also dispute errors with the credit bureaus.
The right path to take to get a mistake removed often depends on how and why the mistake originated. We received two questions from readers regarding credit report mistakes that show how to navigate this issue in different situations.
How Will Accepted Disputes Affect Your Fico Score
Often your score will improve when errors on your credit report are corrected. In some situations, however, your score may not improve when credit information is corrected or updated. For example:
- It is often thought that closing credit card accounts will improve your score. This is not true. Closing an account will neither remove it from your credit report, nor will it prevent the payment history from continuing to be displayed and considered in the calculation of your FICO Score.
- Removing negative information from your credit report may not have the impact on your FICO Score that you expect. There could be additional negative information remaining that will prevent an immediate increase in your FICO Score.
- FICO Scores only consider credit-related information on your credit report. If you change personal information , the credit information on your report will not be impacted and your FICO Score will probably not change. The FICO Score only considers credit account, collection, and public record information.
It typically takes the credit bureau 30-45 days to respond to your dispute.
How To Find Out If Theres Been A Mistake
The most important step you can take is to regularly request a copy of your credit report.
You have a right under the federal law to request for a copy of your credit report every 12 months, said Tony Martins, founder at Profitable Venture. However, if you have exhausted your free copy for the year, you can still have access to one, but this time, you would have to pay for it.
To spot these mistakes before they do serious damage, you have to review your credit reports at least once a year, but youre better off doing this twice a year. When reviewing, look for negative reporting issues or large changes in your FICO score, Garner said. If youre not proactive with your credit report requests, youll likely learn about a mistake by getting turned down by lenders.
Another tip-off that you have errors on your credit reports is getting turned down for credit when you mistakenly believe that you have good credit, said Laura Adams, a personal finance expert with Clearsurance. The denial could result from errors such as incorrect late payments, account balances or legal data . Any of those mistakes could cause your credit scores to plummet without you knowing it.
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How To Fix Errors On Your Credit Report For Free
In 2012, more than 1,000 Americans went over their credit reports with an associate from the Federal Trade Commission , looking for errors. The results werent good.
About one out of four of these consumers found inaccuracies on their credit report that could affect their . That made some of them look less desirable to lenders, hurting their ability to borrow money or get the best interest rate on a loan.
However, the study also had some good news. When the consumers who found errors disputed;them with the credit bureaus, four out of five of them succeeded in getting their credit reports changed. About 10% of consumers saw their credit score change as a result, and 5% managed to bump their score up by at least 25 points ;enough to get them better loan rates in the future.
This study clearly shows how important it is to check your credit report;regularly and dispute any inaccuracies you find. Heres what you need to know about the sorts of errors you might find on your credit report, how they can hurt you, and how to fix them.
Two Approaches To Fixing An Erroneous Credit Report
The most effective way to fix your credit report is to attack it from two directions:
Let’s start with the first option: correcting the information at credit reporting agencies. Doing so will require that you know;how credit reporting agencies work;and;what information credit reporting companies store.
First, you need to know whats wrong. If you havent seen a recent copy of your credit report, get a free government credit report and find out exactly what it says. You’re entitled to at least one free credit report per year.
Next, gather evidence that proves that the credit agency needs to make changes. Youll want to make copies of related documents. You may have to repeat these steps several times and you dont want to give away the originals.
Send a letter with all the documentation and instructions on how they should fix your credit report. Include the following:
- Your full name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number
- Any previous names or addresses used during the disputed period
- The creditors name and details of the account in question
- Specific instructions on what is wrong and how you’d like them to update your credit report
- Notes and references to enclosed documents
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What Are The Most Common Errors
Your credit report should be an accurate record of your financial history, but sometimes mistakes happen.
At Clearscore, these are some of the most common credit report mistakes we see:
Missing relevant information. Not every financial product you use will show up on a credit score, of course; only those with credit facilities and your current account, even if it doesnât have an overdraft. If this is the case for you, it could be that the company youâre using doesnât report to the credit reference agency we use . Itâs worth raising that with them.
An incorrect address. This can affect your credit score. To fix it, make sure youâre registered to vote and check that all your accounts are registered to your current address. Be careful to always write your address the same way. For example, donât use â13aâ for one product and â13 Flat 2â on another.
Something you donât recognise. If you spot a hard search for credit that you donât recognise, or a loan or credit card you didnât apply for, then you need to act fast. It could be a sign youâve fallen victim to identity theft and although you wonât be liable for that borrowing, it will affect your credit score and you need to get it sorted.
Is Your Credit Report Accurate
The information in your credit report can affect your buying power and your chance to get a job, rent or buy a place to live, and buy insurance. Credit bureaus sell the information in your report to businesses that use it to decide whether to loan you money, give you credit, offer you insurance, or rent you a home. Some employers use credit reports in hiring decisions. The strength of your credit history also affects how much you will have to pay to borrow money. Youll want to be sure the information in your report is both accurate and complete. Find out by regularly checking your credit report. You have the right to get free copies of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once every 12 months. To get your free credit reports, go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
Through the pandemic, everyone in the U.S. can get a free credit report each week from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at AnnualCreditReport.com. Also, anyone in the U.S. can get 6 free credit reports per year through 2026 by visiting the Equifax website or by calling 1-866-349-5191. Thats in addition to the one free Equifax report you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com.
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What To Look For In A Credit Report
As you go through each credit report, keep an eye out for the following types of mistakes:
- Accounts that dont belong to you
- Incorrect account details
- Personal information that isnt accurate
- Unauthorized credit inquiries
If you discover any credit reporting errors, highlight them on your report or make notes. Youll need this information when you contact the credit bureaus.
No Your Credit Scores Wont Be On These Reports
The most important thing to keep in mind, though, is that you want your credit report to be completely accurate so your credit scores are accurate, too. A credit score is a rating of your creditworthiness, which is how lenders determine what type of loan terms you may qualify for.
While reviewing your credit reports, you might be flipping the pages wondering, Where is my credit score?
The answer is a bit counterintuitive: Your credit scores arent recorded on your credit report.
Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are private companies that collect and maintain information about consumer credit. This information is then used by credit score modeling companies, such as VantageScore and FICO, to determine your credit scores. You can have multiple credit scores, and each company has their own way of calculating scores, so not all of your credit scores will be the same .
Lenders may also have their own credit scoring models.
Dispute Mistakes With The Credit Bureaus
You should dispute with each credit bureau that has the mistake. Explain in writing what you think is wrong, include the credit bureaus dispute form , copies of documents that support your dispute, and keep records of everything you send. If you send your dispute by mail, you can use the address found on your credit report or a credit bureaus address for disputes.
Add A Notice Of Correction
A notice of correction highlights to anyone checking your credit score that you are disputing some of the data, which they will then take into account when making the decision to lend to;you.
This sometimes happens automatically but you may need to ask the CRA to add it to your;file.
Its important to remember that you need to check with all the CRAs that show errors. Not just the;one.
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How To Avoid Credit Report Errors Before Theyre A Problem
The simplest way to keep a clean credit history is to check your report regularly. You can request a copy of your report every year from each of the three credit bureaus which means that, with planning, you can review your credit report for errors every four months.
With consistent checking, you should be able to catch most issues before they become a problem. Other resources are available for extra diligence:
- Sign up for credit alerts. Some credit reporting bodies offer annual subscriptions for credit alerts so that you can get to fixing problems as they occur.
- Double-check payments. Make sure your payments and debits actually go through. Even autopay systems can make mistakes.
Ultimately, you may not be able to always stop credit report errors before they happen. But by staying on top of your bills and keeping an eye on your score, you can better protect yourself if a mistake is ever made.
The Credit Reporting Agency Must Act On Your Request
Now the balls in the credit reporting agencys court. By law they cannot ignore you. They must acknowledge receipt of your request to fix the mistake. And they must tell you what they plan to do.
When the agency receives your request it will contact the creditor that reported the information.;;
If the creditor agrees theres been an error, the credit reporting agency will update your credit report. The agency must also send the correct information to anyone who received your credit report in the last year.;
If the creditor stands by the original information in the credit report, the reporting agency still must add a note to the report. The note must include the correction you requested.
The credit reporting agency cant simply turn down, without explanation, your request to fix a mistake. It must tell you why it refused;and;provide a staff contact who can answer your questions.;
Hold off applying for credit
Dont apply for credit while a credit reporting agency is looking into a mistake in your credit report. Generally, the agency has 30 days to respond to a complaint about a mistake.;
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