If you’ve clicked onto this article, the chances are, you’re worried about your credit report.
Whether you haven’t checked your credit report in a while and are concerned that the information is outdated, or you’ve just read through your report and found some errors, you’re probably wondering what to do next.
If you suspect or know that there are errors in your credit report, it’s crucial to act fast. Depending on the type of error, your credit score could be impacted over time, potentially limiting your ability to take out loans, for example.
Even incorrect personal information such as your name and address can leave you open to identity theft.
With that being said, don’t panic. Checking your credit report for errors is easy, and disputing those errors shouldn’t be a problem if you follow the simple steps outlined in this article.
How To Find Errors On Your Credit Report
Before you can dispute and fix errors on your credit report, you first need to be able to find those errors. To do this, you’ll need to access and check a copy of your credit report.
Checking for errors in your credit report is a simple process that can be executed in just 3 steps.
First, you’ll need to obtain a copy of your credit report. Legally, you are entitled to a yearly copy of your credit report, free of charge, under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).
To get access to your free copy for the current 12-month period, you can complete a request form here and send it to the P.O. box for the Annual Credit Report Request Service. Alternatively, you can call the Annual Credit Report Request Service directly.
Once you’ve got your copy of your credit report, you’ll need to read through it carefully to pick out any errors.
The key areas of your credit report that you should check are your personal information (including your name, address, and employer), your public financial information (any declarations of bankruptcy, for example), your credit accounts (both open and closed), and any credit applications within the past 24 months.
If any of the above information is incorrect, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to have it corrected as soon as possible.
How To Fix Errors On Your Credit Report
If you’ve found an error on your credit report, you might be in a state of nerves or even panic, wondering what this could mean for you, financially or legally.
Luckily, it’s usually fairly simple to correct errors on your credit report. Once these errors have been fixed and the correct information provided in its place, you won’t have to worry about any further impact on your credit score.
Fixing errors on your credit report involves 3 easy steps:
Contact Your Company
Firstly, you’ll need to contact the company that provided you with a copy of your credit report. This will either be Experian, Equifax, or Transunion.
Each of these three credit companies has its own procedures for handling disputes, so you should take the time to read the relevant company’s policies before contacting them. Usually, however, you can contact them online or by phone.
Make sure that you have your credit report copy nearby for reference.
Outline The Error(s)
Let the company representative with whom you are speaking know which details in your credit report are incorrect.
Be clear on the fact that you are disputing this information on the grounds that it is either outdated or inaccurate.
Once the representative has checked through your report and you have provided any necessary supporting documentation, they should be able to update the information.
Compare With Other Bureaus
If one credit company has a version of your report with incorrect information, it’s possible that other credit bureaus might have similar errors on file.
For this reason, it’s also worth contacting other bureaus to verify that the information they have on you is correct. If not, you’ll need to raise a similar dispute with them as well. The process should be roughly the same.
Once your credit report has been updated with the correct information, you’ll probably find yourself breathing a sigh of relief. Don’t get complacent, though – you’ll need to remain vigilant to ensure that you catch any future errors early.
That doesn’t mean you have to constantly be checking your credit report. However, it is definitely a good idea to look through your report on an annual basis (making use of your yearly free copy) to make sure everything is still as it should be.
Additionally, there are credit monitoring services available online for free that will help you to stay on top of your credit information from now on.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Filing A Dispute Impact My Credit Score?
No, filing a dispute regarding the information on your credit report will not have an impact on your credit score.
However, if the information you’re requesting to change has an impact on your score, then making those changes might see your score rise or fall. For instance, if you change your address, this won’t affect your credit, but reporting a bankruptcy will.
Can I Remove Expired Debts From My Credit Report?
Debts and other negatives on your credit report have an expiration date. This is normally either 7 or 10 years.
If debts older than this are appearing on your credit report, then you can ask for them to be removed. You should do this using the same dispute process outlined above.
How Do I Report Credit Identity Theft?
If you think that your identity has been stolen in relation to your credit, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission immediately, either online or by phone.
Finding errors on your credit report can be worrisome, but in most cases, fixing these errors isn’t too difficult.
The best way to ensure an accurate credit report is to obtain a free copy every year and dispute any errors by contacting the relevant credit bureau.
Remember to keep your credit report and any supporting documents easily accessible to you while raising the dispute. This will help the process to run quickly and smoothly.