According to the Federal Trade Commission, about one in five people have an error on their credit report. While some of these errors may be small, such as misspelling of a name, some can be huge, like inaccurate missed payments.
Errors can cause problems if you’re looking to apply for credit products since they can potentially lower your credit score. Let’s take a look at how to check your credit report and dispute credit report errors you find.
Check Your Credit Report
In the US, there are three major credit reporting companies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. You are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each bureau. This means that you could potentially receive a free credit report three times a year.
It may be best to order a copy from each report at one time. This gives you an in-depth look at the status of your credit at that moment. However, you can order just one or two. You could even stagger them across a year and check them once in a while.
The options for receiving your credit report are varied and make it easy to get a hold of your information. You can order your report online, over the phone, or through the mail.
Credit reports from each bureau may have different information in them, depending on what was reported to each individual bureau. Make sure to look at each report carefully.
It’s very important to check your credit report for inaccuracies. Be sure to pay careful attention to:
- Missed payments
If an entry is negative but correct, unfortunately, there is nothing to do. Negative entries usually age off in about 7-10 years. However, if an entry is incorrect, it is important to take action to dispute credit report problems.
How to Dispute Credit Report Errors
Because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit bureaus and information providers are legally responsible for correcting any information. You should contact both to fix any inaccuracies on your credit report.
The first step in disputing credit report errors is to contact the credit bureau with the inaccuracy. You should send a written letter by certified mail, “return receipt requested.” This will help you have full documentation of what they received.
Your letter should include your complete name and address and list each item in the report that you dispute and why you dispute the information. Be sure to state the correct facts and request that the misinformation be either removed or corrected.
You can also include a copy of your credit report with the disputed entries circled. Also, send copies of any evidence supporting your claim as well. Sending this additional information can help indicate exactly what the problem is.
The credit bureau must investigate unless they consider the dispute frivolous. They must also send all of the information you provide to the informing company. The company must investigate and review all of the evidence and report back.
If the investigation finds the information is incorrect, they will notify all three credit bureaus so they can correct your report. If they disagree with your dispute, you can ask to have a notice placed in your file stating there is a dispute.
Contacting the Information Provider
You should also contact the information provider in writing as well. Send another letter, clearly stating all of the information you included in the first letter.
You should mail the letter to the address listed on your credit report. If no address is listed, contact the company to find out the best address to use.
Since this information provider is furnishing information about your credit report they are required to investigate your dispute. If the item you reported is inaccurate, the provider must tell the bureaus to update or delete the entry.
As you go about this process, make sure to keep a record of everything you send and receive. This can help you keep track of what exactly you are requesting and how the information providers are responding. This can also simply be good for your record-keeping in general.
You don’t have to deal with disputing a credit report error alone. Sometimes, dealing with financial and legal issues can be overwhelming and stressful. They can also simply become a time sink that you may not have the time to deal with.
If this is the case, a dispute credit report lawyer can help. They can help you put together dispute letters and send them to the information providers. They can also follow up on the investigation for you.
Going with this option has the added benefit of ensuring that your issues are being properly addressed. You may end up confused about what information to send or where you should send it. However, dealing with a professional can ensure that the steps you take are the right ones.
Be sure to choose a lawyer who has strong experience in this legal area. For example, Schlanger Law Group credit dispute attorney is a great option. They can walk you through the steps from writing a credit report dispute letter to following up with the findings.
Take Action to Dispute Credit Report Errors
Because your credit score and credit report can make a large impact on your financial life, it’s important to stay on top of them. Check your report every year and dispute credit report errors you find. A credit attorney can help make the process even easier.
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