Credit Report Errors — Fix Them Before They Fix You

So you’ve located an error on your credit report that’s costing you a few precious points on your credit score. Could be the credit reporting agency confused you with a Jane Doe of the same name or a creditor failed to record a settled account.

Regardless of how it got there, there’s a mistake that needs fixing, or else you may suffer the consequences of higher interest loans or, worse yet, rejected credit and employment opportunities.

It will take some effort on your part to amend the problem. But, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the burden of repairing your payment history ultimately rests on the credit bureau and the organization that reported the aforementioned offensive credit information. Start by contacting all three credit bureaus (Equifax – 800-525-6285,; Experian – 800-301-7195,; Trans Union – 800-680-7289, in writing and explain what information you believe is inaccurate. A sample letter can be found on the Federal Trade Commission Web site. You’ll want to include your full name, address and clearly identify each item in your report under dispute. Include any supporting information or documentation to further your position. Remember to ask that the errors be deleted or corrected, and be sure to include a copy of your report with those disputed items circled for reference.

Send the letters certified mail, return receipt requested, to document the credit reporting agencies have received the claim. Credit bureaus must reinvestigate items in question within a reasonable period of time, typically defined as no more than 30 days, and will forward all relevant data to the information provider who will also reinvestigate. If the information provider finds the disputed information to be inaccurate or can no longer be verified, the consumer reporting agency must delete the information and notify the consumer.

When the reinvestigation is complete, the credit bureau must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change of information. Further, per your request, the credit bureau must send notices of corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. If the reinvestigation does not resolve your dispute, insist that the dispute be included in your file and in future reports.

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