So you’re checking your credit report; that’s great. It’s the best way to prevent identity fraud and to make sure the report that potential creditors are seeing represents you correctly. It’s also a great way to get a hold of your finances if you’ve been operating in the dark up until now. But what do you do if you find errors?
The first step is to contact the credit reporting agency. There are three reporting agencies:
This can be done 2 different ways.
#1. You can contact them by going Annual Credit Report and ordering your credit report from all 3 bureau. Each person is allowed to access their credit report for free at least once a year, In some states 2 times a year. Providing you have not received your credit report in the last year, it will take you to each bureau. When you order your report online you can make disputes online. Each Bureau is a little different so follow the directions as provided.
#2. If you have received your credit report in other way besides online then you follow this directions. Send them in writing a letter that outlines what is incorrect, any information you have on the error and the account, and a copy of your credit report. You must also ask them to make the corrections. Send your letter by certified mail, “return receipt requested.” This enables you to track the letter and document any communications. Keep copies of everything related to this process.
You can also ask the credit reporting agency to send notices of any corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months, or the past two years for employers or potential employers.
Why do this? Because you may have been turned down for a job or a loan due to your credit report.
The credit reporting agency has 30 days to respond to your request. They will also send all of the information you provided to the reporting agency. So for example, let’s say they have you listed as owning an active American express credit card with a limit of $10,000 but you know you cancelled that card five years ago. The credit reporting agency will send the information to American Express to help validate your claim and to facilitate clearing up the mistake.
If the error isn’t fixed or resolved, you can file a dispute.
A dispute is filed with the creditor. In the case of the example above, you’d file it with American Express. Now, filing a dispute does two things. It means that they will investigate your claim again and any information they send to the credit reporting agency must also contain an “Under dispute” label. Additionally, once you are proven correct, they cannot report that information to the credit reporting agency again. You’re in the clear.
Make sure when filing a dispute you send all information to the correct address. You can normally find this on their website or by calling. And only send copies of your supporting materials – never send originals. Follow the same procedure you did when you requested a correction with the credit reporting agency and send it by certified mail and keep copies of everything.
Correcting credit report errors can be time-consuming and require patience, persistence and good organization skills on your part. However, it’s worth it. A poor credit score or incorrect information can have an effect on the interest rates you’re charged, whether you get a job and whether you qualify for a loan.
Remember that you can get a free credit report annually at the federal government website –www. ftc.gov/credit. Pat yourself on the back for staying on top of your credit and if you find errors, follow these steps to make sure the corrections are made.