Everybody can make mistakes. Unfortunately, a mistake on your credit report is a bigger deal than other mistakes, and you’ll need to take action if it happens – errors on your credit reports can cause huge problems for your financial future. If your credit report reflects debts you don’t have or accounts you haven’t opened, it might put your future ability to get loans and interface well with banks in jeopardy.
If you look at your credit report and notice mistakes, the first thing you should do is check for other signs of identity theft. If it turns out that you are a victim of this particular crime, we have another article detailing actions you can take. In the event that the error is just a mistake, here’s your path to fixing it:
- Contact the credit bureaus. These are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Notify them in writing with a dispute letter and over the phone – they’re required to look into the problem and fix any inaccuracies with your credit report; it shouldn’t take any longer than 30 days.
- Contact the creditor who recorded the error on your credit report. Tell him what’s incorrect about the report and request that he stop sending the erroneous report to he credit bureaus.
- If the creditor agrees with you that the report is in error, he has to contact the credit bureaus so they can correct the information in your file. Once the information has been corrected, be sure to request a copy of the new credit report and go over it one more time for any inaccuracies.
- In the event that the creditor does not agree with you, you may need to enlist the help of a lawyer to assist with fixing your credit report. Check out the American Bar Association for lawyers in your area who specialize in this field; even if you are low income, they’ll be able to help you find legal assistance at a reasonable price.
- Be persistent. Even if the credit bureaus and the creditor are being totally cooperative with your claims it can take several months for your credit report to get cleaned up. Your credit report is a major player in your financial security, and you’ll be glad of it when the problem is cleared up.
- This might not be a bad time to ask that a fraud alert to be placed on your credit report, even if you are reasonably sure that the mistake on your report was a mistake and that it is not the result of identity theft. A fraud alert only asks for creditors to give you a call in the event that somebody is trying to open a line of credit in your name. It’s not foolproof – creditors are not required by law to honor a fraud alert – but it’s a good safeguard against further mistakes on your credit report.
With this information in hand, we wish you the best of luck in repairing your credit report.