Disputing a Credit Report Error

If you’re trying to build your credit score, it’s the responsible thing to check your official credit report regularly. An error in your credit report can lead to bad credit, even if you’ve been a responsible spender.

Keeping up with your credit report is vital. Mistakes are more common than you might think. A survey by Consumer Reports found that more than a third of people see an error in their report.

Errors can occur because:

There was a technical problem with a payment Negative information has expired but remains in the report (most information will remain in your report for about seven years) Your lender made an incorrect report to one of the credit bureaus You are a victim of identity theft

“The American dream of owning a home, getting an education, or even a job is at risk for those who find errors in their reports and struggle to get them corrected,” said Syed Ejaz, Consumer Reports policy analyst.

Get your credit report

Typically, three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) offer free annual reports. However, due to the pandemic, you will have free access to your credit report every week until April 2022. Many sites say they can provide your credit report for free, but many scams ask for your payment information and charge you after a trial period. Unfortunately, annualcreditreport.com is the only official website for your free credit report.

What should you look for in your credit report?

First, check that all your personal information is correct and up-to-date. A common problem in credit reports occurs when someone accidentally creates aliases. For example, if you open a new account and use your middle initial on your application when you usually don’t, that would be an alias. If you have created aliases, the system may go haywire and add someone else’s credit information to your file.

All your account information – payment history, account balances, credit inquiries – will be listed in the report. While the balances may not be quite accurate, they should still be pretty close.

Your credit report has a section for the information that negatively affects your score. Please ensure that all information in this section is correct and from your accounts. Also check that the data is not too old. Most negative information expires and leaves your report after seven years.

If you don’t recognize some of the information as your own or if it looks like an error was made, there are a few different ways to dispute your credit report.

Digital at the credit bureaus

The error can appear on only one report from the agency, or on all three. If the latter is the case, you will have to start a separate dispute for each. You must create individual online accounts with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to initiate a dispute.

By regular mail

Your dispute will take a little longer to file, but this method is just as effective as submitting it online. Credit bureaus have 30 days to respond to a dispute – or 45 days if they need additional information. Certify your email and track your dispute to know if the agency(s) you work with are responding on time.

If you’re sending your dispute by post, you should type and print your letter instead of writing it by hand. This ensures that your writing is readable by anyone reviewing it.

Each agency has a different address to send your dispute to, so be sure to use the correct address.

Submit your dispute to your lender

Data providers – your lenders and creditors – report your information directly to credit bureaus. If you do this with your organizers, the original data will also be changed in addition to your notification.

However you decide to file the dispute, the burden of proof lies with the credit bureau. If they can’t verify the information that hurts you, they should delete it. When filing your dispute, please provide as much evidence against the error as possible.

Files to attach to your dispute that may be helpful:

Letters showing that a student loan has been forgiven because of a disability A police report or a Federal Trade Committee report showing that the error in your report is the result of identity theft Canceled checks to show that you have made direct debit payments Bankruptcy schemes that open an account show your report, were either included in or discharged from bankruptcyRelevant court documents or public recordsAccount statements

If your dispute is rejected

Being rejected when you know the information in your report is incorrect can be very frustrating – luckily there are a few things you can do.

You can resubmit and provide additional files for your case. Be careful though, because if you re-submit the same information, you will likely be rejected as the system may consider it a duplicate dispute.

If you are rejected again, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They will launch an investigation into your case, but the 30 day deadline does not apply, so it is not possible to know exactly how long it will take. You can also use the National Association of Consumer Advocates to find an attorney if your situation seems bad enough.

They will help you bring your claim against the credit bureau or your financial institution to court. According to Consumer Reports, your attorney fees may be automatically covered if the company you’re reporting is in violation.

You are legally allowed to write a 100-word statement to accompany your credit report. The statement is an excellent opportunity to explain your situation to creditors who request your report, but the error will not be cleared.

This article was produced and published by Wealth of Geeks.

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