How to fix errors on your credit report

How to fix errors on your credit report

There are many obvious reasons to care about your credit score, and very few reasons to ignore it. After all, you’ll need a good credit score and solid credit history if you’re considering it to buy a house Or get a car loan. A bad credit rating can turn against you if you want to rent an apartment or apply for certain jobs.

But your rating isn’t the only thing you should pay attention to. You should also monitor your credit report — the document that lists your official credit history, including the accounts you’ve opened, balances due, and payments you’ve made.

Your report and evaluation are closely linked. If the wrong information is on your credit report due to fraud or misrepresentation, your credit rating can easily go down. Likewise, a clear credit report with only valid (and positive) information can help raise your credit rating.

This is why each year you should obtain a copy of your credit report from the credit reporting agencies.

How to dispute your credit report information

Once you have obtained a copy of your credit report from the agencies, you will need to review all the details to ensure they are correct. Incorrect information that you may notice in your report may include:

  • Errors regarding your name or personal information
  • Accounts that are not yours
  • Accounts owned by someone similar to your name
  • Closed accounts are reported as open
  • Late payments are incorrectly reported
  • Accounts have been listed more than once
  • Incorrect account balances
  • Incorrect credit limits on accounts

Through the Fair Credit Reporting Act, it is the responsibility of both the credit reporting agency and the person providing information to it to correct incorrect information on your credit report. This means that if a particular merchant or bank reports an account that is not yours or an incorrect balance, the credit reporting agency and the merchant or bank must work together to rectify the situation.

If you find an error, here are the steps you should take immediately:

Notify the credit bureau that is holding the incorrect information of what went wrong

The first step to take is to report the mistake to the credit bureau, keeping in mind that not all credit bureaus may have the same information. You must tell them about the error in writing, making sure to list important details of the error along with the appropriate documentation.

Note that credit reporting agencies generally have 30 days to review your application and are required to respond to you. They are also required to pass the information you send to them to the provider that shared that information with them in the first place.

Inform the person who provided the information of the error

You will also need to provide the company that provided the incorrect information with copies of any documentation proving that an error occurred. Be sure to include all the details necessary to substantiate your claim, as well as copies of documents confirming it.

Monitor your credit report update

As a general rule, the credit bureaus are required to inform you in writing of the results of your filing. They are also required by law to provide you with another copy of your credit report for free if your dispute has resulted in a permanent change.

You also have the option of asking the credit reporting agency to send correction notices to anyone who has requested your credit report within the past six months. You can even send an updated copy to anyone who has requested an amended copy of your credit report for employment reasons.

Worry about your balance

While the above steps may seem tedious, it is essential to understand the damage that incorrect information on your credit report can cause. If your file includes inaccurate late payments, for example, you could see your credit rating drop through no fault of your own. And if your credit report contains accounts that you don’t even have, that could mean a much bigger problem, like outright identity theft.

Fortunately, the short time it takes to dispute something on your credit report can be very helpful. After all, any negative information that you managed to get rid of should immediately stop lowering your rating.

However, you should also be aware that you will only be able to remove false negative information from your credit report. Any malicious information should remain valid in your report until sufficient time has passed.

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