Being aware of your credit report and the information it shows is important. If you need to check your credit report, you can do it for free here. What happens when you find a discrepancy on your credit report though? What should you do? Keep reading to find out.
Credit report accuracy
As you know, there are 3 major credit bureaus that provide your credit report. This information is important because it can affect different areas of your life, like getting loans, credit cards, renting or buying a place, and even the opportunities of getting a job. Financial institutions also use this information to make decisions like offering insurance services, credit cards with certain specifications, loans and mortgages. Credit reports will basically determine how expensive your life is going to be when it comes to getting loans or different financial products.
It is important to keep track of the information shown in your credit report because sometimes it can contain mistakes. If this happens, you should take action to fix these immediately.
For example, when someone steals your credit card, the items they bought using your card will appear unpaid on your credit report. This kind of information is inaccurate and will possibly affect your life (not being able to get credits, loans, etc.), so you have to take action by reporting the identity theft to the government and getting a recovery plan from them.
Credit bureaus have to correct the mistakes and inaccuracies on your credit report, but they are not the only ones. The business that provided the information to the credit bureau has to correct the mistake that is being disputed. Keep in mind that neither of them can charge you any fee or money for this operation, it has to be done for free. Now, to correct the information, you have to contact both the credit bureau and the business. Here is how you should let them know that you want to dispute the information shown in your credit report:
With Experian you can choose to dispute by mail or online. You can find help and the mailing address on their website. You will need to include your full name, date of birth, SSN, all the addresses where you have lived in the past 2 years, a copy of an official ID, a copy of a bank statement and you should list every item of your credit report that you believe is inaccurate.
For Equifax, you can go to their website and start your dispute online with their guidance throughout the whole process. You will need to provide your personal information (ID, birth certificate and a copy of a utility bill), your account information (bank statements with account information, letters from a lender showing an account has been corrected and proof of identity theft), and also additional information according to your situation, such as bankruptcy schedules, loan disability letters or cancelled checks.
They offer the option to dispute items on your credit report by mail. The information of the mailing address can be found on their website, and you will be asked to provide your full name, partial account number of the disputed item, current address and reason for your dispute. Also, if possible, it might be helpful to provide your TransUnion file number, SSN, date of birth, name of the company that reported the item in dispute, and any corrections to your personal information (if needed).
Remember to keep a copy of everything you send to the credit bureaus so that you have evidence of the dispute with you. You should also keep in mind that the 3 credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate and get to a verdict for your dispute. If they consider the request irrelevant, they will have to let you know and give you the reason why they got to that decision. You then might have to provide additional information. The credit bureau will also provide the information to the business, and they will have to investigate and report their results to the credit bureau. If your dispute is correct and the business finds the information reported inaccurate, they will have to notify all 3 major credit bureaus for them to correct the information in your credit report.
Whatever the result of the investigation related to your dispute, the credit bureau will have to let you know in writing and they will also have to give you a free copy (that does not count as your free annual copy of your credit report) of your credit report if the dispute ends up in a change. The credit bureau must send notifications of the changes to anyone who got the report in the last 6 months.
If you have trouble getting your dispute accepted, you can directly dispute the information with the business that provided the information as a backup plan. To do this, you will have to send a letter that contains your complete name, address, the list of items that you want to dispute and the reason for the dispute. They will have to notify the credit bureau about your dispute and also the result of the dispute for credit bureaus to update the information shown on your credit report.
Remember to keep track of your credit in order to have a better financial future and healthy credit habits.