Your credit report is basically a blueprint of every major financial investment you have made. It contains information about your credit history, places you have lived, and any legal actions have been taken against you. It’s also what many companies use today to determine your down payment on a car or whether you qualify for a loan. It’s basically a reflection of how responsible you are with your finances.
Credit reports can be extremely helpful in understanding your level of financial integrity when it comes to apartment leases or making payments on time. Many employers run credit checks in order to ensure that they can trust you with company property or company credit cards. It’s recommended that you check your credit at least once a month in order to make sure the information is correct and up to date. It’s also a useful tool in making sure that your information hasn’t been compromised or stolen. There are many different companies that protect your information and make sure that it remains accurate. Sometimes they make mistakes and credit report inaccuracies occur, which can be a headache to try and get resolved.
How Do These Inaccuracies Happen?
There are many companies and websites that can help you monitor your credit report. How do these inaccuracies happen? There are a few different ways that inaccuracies can occur. When there is a child that is named after their parent they usually go by junior therefore making the parent a senior. If the parent or child forgets to add the suffix at the end of their name it can cause the credit bureaus to report the activity on the incorrect person’s credit report. It’s important to correctly add the suffix to all the areas that require your name in order to prevent this error.
Today, almost all credit card or loan applications are applied for online or over the computer. Rarely are applications filled out on paper. If you are asked to fill out an application on paper, it’s extremely important to write clearly and legibly. The applications may be input incorrectly if the handwriting is poor, which is another way that inaccuracies occur. Furnisher errors are a common form of miscommunication that can lead to inaccuracies. A Furnisher refers to a person who is responsible for giving information to lenders and credit card companies. They deal with massive amounts of information over a short period of time and sometimes that information gets reported incorrectly. Once a Furnisher makes an error it may be difficult to get it resolved. Furnishers have a hard time finding errors, especially when they are dealing with a ton of electronic information they have to sort through.
Another way of inaccuracies appearing on your report is mistakes made by the credit bureau themselves. These errors occur usually from systems trying to match information to the correct people. If a name is spelled incorrectly or a social security number was entered incorrectly the system may attach the information to an incorrect person. Be sure that when you are entering information, whether it’s on paper or on a computer, that everything is accurate and filled in before you submit it. If you feel that you were billed incorrectly, it’s recommended that you contact the company who is billing you instead of just refusing to pay it. They can determine if there was an error and fix it so that the inquiry does not show up delinquent on your report. If you do find a discrepancy on your report, make sure you contact the bureau immediately, so they can start finding what went wrong and where to fix it.
Fixing Credit Report Errors
The process of fixing a credit report error is generally long and can be very tedious. The first step is to let the credit bureau know the exact nature of the error. This must be done in a written letter and sent the bureau. Remember that it’s the responsibility of the credit bureau and the company reporting to the bureau to find and correct the error, so it’s important to be as specific as possible when describing the inaccuracy.
The more information you can provide about the error the easier it will be for them to spot the mistake and correct it. Provide any and all documents and supporting information that you can. It’s recommended to make sure you submit copies and not originals just in case you need them at a later date. Be sure to list each specific error that you need corrected and state why it’s incorrect and how it should be corrected. Keep copies of the letter and all documents sent to them for your personal records. The best way to send the letter is by certified mail that way you’ll have a tracking number and can ensure its delivery. The bureau will begin the investigation within 30 days after receiving the letter. The bureau will then send all information to the company that made the error and they will begin to sort through their information in order to find the discrepancy.
Once the error has been found the company who made the error will correct it and send all corrected documents back to the bureau. The bureau is required to alert all three credit-reporting companies of the error. The bureau or the company that made the error will then send you back all the corrected information and a corrected credit report to ensure that the error was fixed properly. A copy of the dispute and the corrected information can be sent to any organization or other company that has run a credit check on you within the last six months.
The other option is to report the error to the company that made it. The bureau and the credit reporting company are required to look into it, but they are not required to remove it if they don’t believe an error was made. However, the reporting company must let the bureau know that you did file a dispute and give them the details of said dispute. Keep in mind that some information may not show up on your credit report at all due to the insignificance of the company or the card you received from them. An example of this is a credit card that is specific to the business and can only be used to purchase items from that business. The credit disputing process may take time but in the long run it’s better to have any negative or hurtful marks pulled from your report as soon as possible so they don’t affect your future credit history.
Common Mistakes that Cause Credit Report Errors
There are many different ways mistakes can occur on your credit report. A very common one is incorrect information being given at the time of the inquiry. For instance, if your name is spelled incorrectly or the address used is an older one the report may match with another person’s instead of yours. Social security mix-ups are also common, sometimes people tend to misplace a number and the system reports incorrectly. Overtime delinquent marks on your report are supposed to be removed. Bankruptcy is removed after about seven years. Sometimes credit reporting companies make an error and don’t remove these negative marks or forget to take them off. Keep track of the time line of your negative or delinquent marks and make sure they are removed on time.
Duplicate reports or accounts occasionally get reported, especially when applying for applications online. Sometimes the computer makes an error or does not load properly, and the information is sent twice. This can cause it to seem like you have tried to open multiple accounts in a short window of time, which sometimes reflects negatively on your account. When personally closing accounts be sure that they appear on your report accurately. The bureau may get a notification from the lender or company that the account was closed on their end and not yours. This will negatively affect your credit and may even be reported as “bad credit” on your report.
In order to avoid simple errors be sure to take your time in filling out applications. Make sure all the information on them is accurate and legible. Also, make sure you are regularly checking your credit report, especially after you make any known changes like opening a new credit card, leasing an apartment, or applying for a loan. Be aware of when and how these changes show up on your account and what actions to take if they appear incorrect.
What if You Disagree with the Credit Bureau’s Investigation?
There is a chance that the credit-reporting agency may not agree with the fact that an error has been made. In this case you can always ask the bureau for a copy of their report and a summary of the investigation they made. You can also request that a statement of the dispute be reported in your file and it be summarized in any future reports. If you feel that their report was done incorrectly or if you still feel there is an error, you do have the option to report your inquiry to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The CFPB is responsible for making sure the credit reporting companies are being fair and unbiased when reporting to the bureau. You can only submit a dispute to them if the dispute was already filed with the credit bureau and rejected. You are not allowed to submit any disputes that were filed to the credit reporting company and not the credit bureau.
If all of these other options fail or if you are still unsatisfied with the results you can alternatively hire a personal lawyer who can further assist you and help take legal action against the credit reporting company. Be aware that if you do file a dispute and the credit bureau finds that you are incorrect, but you still disagree, they will note that on your report. If you fail to pay the fee or fine associated with the dispute it will be reported as “bad credit” and possibly sent to collections. Double check all your information and be sure that you did not misunderstand a billing term or a fine before you dispute something. Disputes can take up to thirty days to go through the resolution process and so it’s important that every step you take in filing a dispute is done correctly and accurately in order to avoid further confusion or repercussions.
Credit report inaccuracies are not all together uncommon. They require time and patience in order to get corrected. There are many simple steps you can take in order to ensure that you are not a victim of these mistakes. First, be sure to know what you are applying for and how long ago you applied for it. You’ll be more aware of the status of your report if you are expecting changes to come. Second, don’t share your personal information with anyone. About fifty percent of all identity theft is committed by a direct family member. Be sure to report any mix-ups that may have occurred due to a similar name or social security number. Finally, take responsibility for the health of your credit. Being financially responsible is a quality that is highly sought after these days. If you think something isn’t correct on your credit report don’t be afraid to take action and ask questions. It’s better that you fully understand what you are paying for and why you are being billed a certain way than to just assume that these companies are correct. Take care of your credit and you’ll live a more financially stable life.