Errors in Your Credit Report – Tips to Fix

While some of those TV commercials for free credit-score report companies are pretty funny, having errors in your credit report is no laughing matter. Here we offer some tips to fix any errors. Your credit score is one of the main factors determining your access to loans, credit cards, housing, and sometimes even jobs.

From payments reported as late that you made on time and debts reported as in collection that you paid,  to fake accounts identity thieves opened in your name, there are all kinds of errors in your credit report that can negatively affect your score. Even if the mistakes were made by the banks, lenders, and/or credit bureaus, they have no obligation to fix them—unless you report them.
Given this, it’s critical to monitor your credit score regularly and take immediate action to have any errors corrected. Here, we discuss a few of the most common mistakes found in credit reports and how to fix them.

Finding and fixing errors

The first step to ensure your credit report stays error-free is to obtain a copy of your report from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.
Check each of the reports closely for errors. Some of the most common mistakes include:
●       Misspellings and other errors in your name, address, and/or Social Security number
●       Accounts that are mistakenly reported more than once
●       Loan inquiries you didn’t authorize
●       Payments inadvertently applied to the wrong account or noted as unpaid, when they were in fact paid
●       Old debts that have been paid off or should’ve been removed from your report after seven years
●       Fake accounts and debts created by identity thieves

Filing a dispute

If anything is inaccurate on your report, file a dispute with the credit bureaus as soon as possible. In fact, notifying these agencies is a prerequisite to any further action. Note that if a mistake appears on more than one report, you’ll need to file a dispute with each credit bureau involved.
To ensure your dispute has the best chances of success, follow these steps:
●       Use the appropriate forms: Each credit bureau has a different process for filing a dispute—whether via regular mail or online—so check the bureau’s website for instructions and forms. You can find sample letters on the FTC and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) websites.
●       Be clear: Clearly identify each disputed item in your report, state the facts explaining why the information is incorrect, and request a deletion or correction.
●       Provide evidence: It’s not enough to just say there’s a mistake; you should substantiate your claim with proof. Collect all documents related to the account, including account statements, letters, emails, and legal correspondence. Include copies (keep the originals) of this paperwork and highlight or circle the relevant information.
●       Contact credit providers: In addition to the credit bureaus, the CFPB recommends you also contact the credit providers that supplied the incorrect information to the bureaus. Check with the company to learn how to file a dispute, and then send them the same documentation you sent to the bureaus.
●       Review the results of the investigation: Credit bureaus typically get back to you within a month, but their response can take up to 45 days. The response will tell you if the disputed item was deleted, fixed, or remains the same. Disputes basically boil down to whether the creditor agrees with your claim or not, and what they say typically goes.
If you’re not happy with the result of the dispute or how the dispute was handled, you can file a complaint with the CFPB, which regulates the credit bureaus. They’ll forward your complaint to the credit provider and update you on the response they receive.
If a credit provider insists the information is accurate, you can provide the bureaus with a statement summarizing your dispute and request they include it in your file, in future reports, and to anyone who received a copy of the old report in the recent past.

Next steps

Finally, if the investigation isn’t resolved to your satisfaction and the inaccurate information in your credit report is causing you harm, contact us to determine what next steps would be worthwhile.
Getting and keeping your credit in top shape can be enhanced by having the proper legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems in place. We can support you to secure your family’s financial future. Contact us or schedule your Family Wealth Planning Session today to get started.
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