Your credit report contains a lot of important information. Aside from your personal identifying information, it shows your financial history. It shows others how you pay your bills and what negative economic events you suffered. This includes bankruptcies and foreclosures. What happens, however, when there is a mistake? Can you get it fixed? The short answer is yes. Here we will discuss how to make that happen.
How to Know if There are Mistakes
First, you must know there are mistakes. Without a credit report in your hand, it is nearly impossible. But, you are entitled to a free credit report once a year. There is a loophole, though. Each credit bureau must provide you with a report once a year upon request. This means you could check your report 3 times a year.
You can request the report by mail, phone or online. The credit bureau will require personal information from you. This includes your name, address, and social security number. In order to protect your privacy, they may also ask a few other questions to make sure your request is valid. The questions will be those only you will know the answers to.
Once you have your report, you can then look for errors. Once you find the errors, you must correct them.
Correcting a Mistake on Your Credit Report
There are several steps you will take to dispute a mistake on your credit report, starting with the credit bureau.
You must write to the bureau reporting the incorrect information. This could be Equifax, Experian, or Transunion. You must provide them with a letter detailing the mistake. Your letter should state your name and address. It should also include as much detail as possible. State the reasons why you think the information is incorrect. Make sure to include any proof you have why it is wrong. Of course, make sure you keep copies for yourself. In your letter, make sure you clearly request that you want the error removed or fixed.
The credit bureau must address your concern. By law, they have 30 days to do this. During this time, they will likely let the company providing the incorrect information know. The company can then act accordingly. They will let the credit bureau know of their findings.
Don’t skip letting the company providing the information know you dispute the claim. Send them a similar letter that you sent the credit bureau. You should also send them the proof you have. This way they can act accordingly. They must report to the credit bureau that you are disputing a claim. The credit bureau then marks the account disputed until there is an answer.
Once the credit bureau gets word that the information is incorrect, they must correct it. The company that provided the incorrect information must also let the other bureaus know. All three bureaus can then correct the information.
Completing the Process
If there was a change in your credit report, the reporting credit bureau must provide you with a copy of your report. This is a free credit report. But, it doesn’t count against your free report for the year. It works just like it would if you were denied credit. You are eligible to receive a free copy of your report with any declined credit.
You can take it a step further, though. If you want anyone you applied for credit with during the last six months to know of the change, you can arrange it. The credit bureau must send the corrected report to each company that pulled your credit within that time. However, they will only do this if you request it. If any employers pulled your credit, you can also request the corrected report be sent to them. This applies to any employers you applied with over the last 2 years.
What if the Claim is Frivolous?
If the company you claim made a reporting error thinks your claim is frivolous, they have options. They do not have to investigate the claim. However, they must let you know within 5 business days that they made this decision. If they do not act within 5 days, they must investigate the issue. Either way, you will be notified of their decision.
What if the Claim is Wrong?
If the company you claim provided wrong information does not find the information inaccurate, they don’t have to change anything. However, you can ask the credit bureau to put a line on the report stating that you disputed the information. This may help you in the future when other companies pull your credit. They may then ask you for an explanation of the dispute and why it was denied. At least it gives you an option to have a conversation with a future creditor.
It is very important that you keep a close eye on your credit report. It affects many things you do including gaining access to new credit, new jobs, and even volunteer work. Request your free report once every four months. Alternate the bureaus you request from. This way you get a free report year round. Checking your credit multiple times throughout the year is beneficial. It helps to ensure that the accounts are reporting accurately. Humans make mistakes. You never know when something will be recorded wrong unless you check.
As long as you act fast and provide the right information, you can get your incorrect information made right. However, don’t expect it to happen fast. The back and forth between everyone involved may take some time. It helps to have plenty of proof and to send everything at once. You can always follow up with the credit bureau and the company you dispute to see where you stand. Either way, be your own advocate and make sure everything reported about your personal and financial history is accurate. You never know when it could be the difference between getting a job or new loan and not getting it. Don’t take a chance! Monitor your credit report as much as you can.