You’ve just pulled your credit report for the first time in over a year. As you are casually reviewing it, you notice a minor error. Looks like your address is wrong. No problem, you think. You’ll just contact the credit bureau and have them fix it. But as you continue to peruse, you see a line of credit open for a department store that you have never been to. How common is this? Very. According to a study by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), one in four consumers identified errors on their credit report that might affect their credit. Fortunately, these can be fixed in most cases.
Remember, you are entitled to an annual free report from all three main credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax). Take advantage of that right to learn more about your credit history. If you do find an error, here is some general information on how to fix a credit report error.
Types of Credit Report Errors
Credit report errors can be categorized into three groups. Some errors are more benign, like having the wrong address on you report, while others can be much more damaging and can lead to a low credit score and a denial of credit, among other things. Types of errors include:
Contact the Credit Reporting Bureau
If you have found an error, it is best not to panic. While these situations happen frequently, it is in your best interests to get the error reported as soon as possible. Your first line of attack is to contact the credit reporting bureau and document the suspected error. The law is on your side here via the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). FCRA mandates that both the credit reporting company and the information provider or creditors are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report.
Start with a written letter sent via certified mail. Your letter should state all the disputed information and a request to have it removed from your credit report from all three bureaus. After the credit bureau receives notice of the dispute, they must investigate within 30 days and also notify the creditor reporting the information to perform an investigation, thereby reporting back to the credit bureau. If the creditor finds the disputed information is inaccurate, it must notify all three nationwide credit reporting companies so they can correct the information in your file.
Contact the Creditor
You may also need to contact the creditor directly. If a creditor or lender is reporting incorrect information to the credit bureaus or you are the victim of identity theft, be sure to document any contact you have had with the creditor and put everything in writing. While this might not solve the problem immediately, it will put you on the road to possibly getting the inaccurate information removed. If you are correct and the item is inaccurate, the creditor or lender must immediately report this to the three credit reporting agencies.
What if I am Dissatisfied with the Results of My Dispute?
There are a number of things you can do if you feel your dispute did not end fairly or the error still exists. The most important thing you can do is speak with a qualified credit repair lawyer about how to solve these problems and go about getting the information removed from your report. You can also file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), your state's Department of Consumer Affairs/Consumer Protection Bureau, or your state's Attorney General's office.
How to Fix a Credit Report Error: Related Resources
Find Out More About Fixing Credit Report Errors
Finding an error on your credit report can be extremely troubling. While you work hard to maintain a high credit score, sometimes errors or outright identity theft can cause you to have bad credit through no fault of your own. If you have reported your credit error, but are not satisfied with the results, you may wish to speak with a consumer law attorney who specializes in credit repair to learn more about your options.