The Correct Way to Dispute an Error on Your Credit Report

dispute error on credit report

You may have heard the news about how a Wisconsin woman had to seek legal help after finding errors in her credit report. After paying off her $10,000 debt, she received written confirmation of payment through a court order. Yet, she continues to have false claims on her record of payments still due. Despite numerous failed attempts to handle the issue directly with the credit bureaus, a legal attorney had to grab the wheel. Unfortunately, this has become a common problem Americans are facing. Research suggests that almost 80 percent of all credit reports contain some sort of error. As a result, you need to learn the ins and outs of both the credit repair process and credit report maintenance.

Back to the basics

Knowledge is power. Familiarize yourself with common credit issues and the key players actually handling your credit score.

  • The credit bureau

There are three major credit bureaus in the United States: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each is responsible for collecting and maintaining your credit-related information. This data includes all of your borrowing and payment habits. Creditors and lenders generally provide your account details to at least one of the three bureaus monthly to insure its relevance. This information is offered for sale to creditors, lenders or consumers when deemed appropriate.

  • Credit errors

Credit errors come in all shapes and sizes. They can range from misspelling your name to identity theft. With that being said, it is crucial to know which beast you are fighting. The three most common mistakes found on a credit report are:

  • Identity errors
  • Inaccurate account information
  • Unfamiliar accounts

Credit errors can be the fault of any party involved. Similar to the game of telephone, you pass information to lenders who then pass it to the bureaus who in turn pass it back to you. Considering we are all human beings, information can be misheard, misread or misinterpreted fairly easily.

How to dispute a credit report error

Once an error is found, the key is to take the correct actions to fix it.

  • Step 1 – Know your rights

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a U.S. legislation enacted to ensure the accuracy, privacy and fairness of your most personal information. Under the Fair Credit Reporting System, you have the right to see, question and dispute any inaccuracies you believe are on your credit report. For a full list of your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, click here.

  • Step 2 – Reach out to the credit bureaus directly

Once you discover the error, you are entitled to reach out to the credit bureaus directly. This can be done by phone, e-mail or direct mail. Each means of communication comes with its own list of pros and cons. Length of time, personal convenience and physical documentation should all be considered before deciding the best way to contact them. Depending on the error in question, the issue could be a straightforward fix by the credit bureaus themselves. However, other issues may require legal aid. 

  • Step 3 – Opt for legal action  

When no advancements are being made and your creditworthiness is in jeopardy, you need to call in the experts. A jaw dropping 1 in every 4 credit reports contains mistakes serious enough to harm the consumer’s credit score, potentially leading to increased interest rates or denial of credit. Begin your search by looking for a credit repair company that offers legal assistance. It is important to choose a credit attorney with positive testimonials and reviews. You want to be sure you are in the best hands. Also, look for a service provider that is flexible to your needs and will not overcharge for services you do not need.

Best practices to ensure an accurate credit score

Your credit score is basically your financial reputation. With some simple upkeep, you can ensure that your credit report remains accurate and relevant.

  • Stay ahead of the game

You should review your credit report at least every four months. This level of frequency gives you control. By monitoring information regularly, you can quickly respond if a mistake is found. Plus, it will keep the error from escalating with time. You are allowed one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus yearly. Document and report any inconsistencies between the credit reports supplied by the three Bureaus.

  • Invest in credit maintenance services

Having an extra pair of eyes surveying your credit report could greatly reduce the amount of errors. With a reliable credit maintenance provider, you can benefit from many proactive services. These include being alerted on any activity within your account, as well as professional coaching to help you increase your credit score. 

  • Keep paper proof

Proof is everything. Having an organized file of all credit-related documentation is key. If you ever need to file a dispute, this paper trail will go a long way; especially if a legal approach is taken. An attorney will be able to use these documents to your advantage.

  • Time does heal some things

Being realistic, the credit bureaus have their hands on roughly 200 million credit reports. It does take time to investigate and process the error. According to the FCRA, credit reporting agencies have up to 30 days to investigate a dispute. It is also important to keep in mind that negative claims can stay on your record for seven years. So, if you come across reference to an outstanding charge that you settled years ago, it legally can still remain on your credit report, although it should not still be listed as outstanding. Declaring bankruptcy can stay on your credit report for up to ten years.

Mistakes do happen. Unfortunately, these errors can cause significant consequences. With your financial future on the line, credit repair and credit maintenance are essential measures every American should take. Rest assured that you are not alone.

 

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