Like millions of Americans, I never gave a second thought to my credit report until I went to get a loan for a new car. To my surprise, there were a number of mistakes.
Even though I got approved for the loan, the experience reminded me of the importance of periodically checking my credit report for errors.
The truth is, credit reports frequently contain errors such as outdated information, incorrect payment status, and wrong notations for closed accounts.
Plus there is the growing problem of identity theft. The good news is that you can correct most of these mistakes without having to pay someone to take care of it for you. Here are a few steps to find and correct mistakes before they cost you.
First, you will need to get copies of all your credit reports from the three major reporting agencies — Equifax, Transunion, Experia.
By law you are entitled to a free copy every twelve months, so there should be no need to purchase them. Some experts suggest staggering the reports by requesting from a different agency each quarter. But if this is the first time that you’ve checked your scores, you should request all three reports so that they can be compared.
Once you receive the reports, the second step is to carefully review the information they contain. Be sure to check every section including your identifying information. When looking at the credit accounts section, be sure to note any accounts you’ve paid off but still show and open balance. Make a list of every item in dispute and secure any documentation that can serve as proof.
The third step, is to inform each of the agencies about the items in dispute. For this step, there are several options from which you can choose. For instance, each agency has an option for submitting disputes online. This is simplest and quickest way to submit your dispute.
If you prefer, however, you can request a form from the reporting agency or simply write them a letter. If you choose to write a letter, be sure it is detailed and professional. When submitting documentation, be sure to keep the original and submit a copy to the credit reporting agency.
Companies are obligated by law to investigate any consumer disputes. By law they have three days from the time they receive the dispute to either begin an investigation or remove the item from your report.
If they decide to remove the disputed item from your credit report they will contact you via telephone plus send you a confirmation letter along with a free revised report. If they decide to investigate your claim, they have 45 days to make a decision.