Even a minor mistake on your credit report can keep you from getting a good interest rate on a line of credit. It is vital to keep your credit as good as possible. But did you know that up to 70% of credit reports contain mistakes? The three major credit bureaus are in charge of keeping track of your credit history. Since they have millions of reports to keep track of, they can’t be concerned with making sure every report is 100% accurate. That job is up to you. So what steps do you need to take to make sure your credit reports are as good as possible?
Check one report every 4 months to locate any errors. This is an important step. You are entitled by law to one free report from each of the three credit bureaus every year. Take advantage of this. Remember, one bureau can make a mistake while the other two don’t, so be on the lookout. If you do find a mistake on one, then you should order to the other two to make sure the same mistake isn’t on the others.
Write to the bureau when a mistake is found, don’t call first. Why shouldn’t you call first? Because when you call, you don’t have any evidence you contacted the bureau, which is important if you, in a worst case scenario, have to take the mistake to court. Address the letter to a company executive, not to the bureau in general. In the letter, attach a copy of your report and highlight the mistakes. Give them all your contact information, including your full name, address, contact information, and social security number. Make it as easy as possible for them to help you out.
Remind the bureaus what they are required to do by law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires Equifax, Transunion, and Experian to investigate all discrepancies consumers report, including:
- Purchases made by someone else.
- Prices on bills that don’t match your records.
- Charges for products or services you never received.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that any transaction that can’t be proven within 30 days be removed.
Keep calm and be professional when you do make a call. Correcting your credit history is likely to be a headache. The one letter probably won’t be the end of your credit trouble. Be prepared to make a series of phone calls to credit bureaus and other financial institutions. These phone calls can be frustrating, but a calm and tactful attitude will get you much farther than screaming and yelling will.
Take notes of everything that happens and get confirmation. Why? In case you have to go to court. This is unlikely, but it does happen. When you get verbal assurance that a bureau will take action, try to get them to send you a written confirmation they have, or will, do what they said.
Call a lawyer only as a last result. Nobody wants to get caught up in a legal battle, but if an uncorrected mistake will be a huge blemish on your report, this step must be taken. A lawyer will help you take the necessary action if the above steps haven’t fixed the mistake.
Making wise financial decisions and paying off all your bills are steps you can take to keep your credit reports spot free. But a bureau can easily make a mistake. Do your part to catch these mistakes as soon as possible. The sooner you catch them, the more likely the mistakes can be corrected.
Jason Kay recommends you learn more about repairing your credit at DebtSecret.net. Get a free credit report at FreeCreditReport.com.