3 Most Common Credit Report Errors and How to Fix Them
According to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), one out of five American consumers experience errors in their credit reports. What makes it disturbing is that these errors tend to make them less creditworthy than they are.
Credit report errors can negatively affect you in many ways, but generally, they drag your credit score down. What’s more, your credit report measures your financial health. To prevent financial challenges from happening, you may want to request a copy of your credit report now, and see whether the following errors exist.
1. Personal Information Errors
There are times when credit bureaus confuse one consumer with someone else or when credit reports list incorrect addresses. These incidents are primarily caused by identity or personal information errors. Here are some of the most common identity errors that you should look out for:
- Incorrect name
- Misspelling of your name
- Incorrect middle initial
- Incorrect contact information (e.g., phone number and address)
Your basic personal facts should always be updated whenever you move to another house, change your name, or use a new phone number. If you recently filed a divorce and have joint accounts with your former spouse, remove your name from these accounts to avoid suffering from incurring debts in the future.
2. Mistaken Accounts
Audit the number of open accounts recorded in your credit report. There are situations when a retail credit card or loan may be opened under your name, but you actually were not involved. It may happen due to clerical error or identity theft.
Clerical errors take place when another consumer coincidentally has the same name as yours. You’ll notice these errors easily when someone else’s information appears on your report. These errors can negatively affect your credit utilization ratio and credit rating, so you’d want to update your creditor right away.
Clerical errors take place when another consumer coincidentally has the same name as yours.
These unfamiliar accounts could also indicate that somebody deliberately stole your identity, either through your name or social security number. If you think you’re a victim of identity theft, give your creditor a ring as soon as possible. Recovering from the damage caused by this theft requires a long and complex process. It’s best to catch the thief right away and mitigate its potential financial and legal risks.
3. Account Reporting Errors
Errors may happen in the actual status of your accounts, too. Among all these inaccuracies, missed and late payment dates are one of the most alarming. If taken for granted, you may end up defaulting on your payments. Even worse, these errors can cut back your credit rating significantly.
Below are the most common errors that could happen in your account:
- An opened account is reported closed, or vice versa
- Timely account payments are reported late or delinquent
- Incorrect dates of late payments
- Incorrect dates on opening or closing an account
- Incorrect balance
- Incorrect credit limit
- A consumer is listed as a primary account holder rather than an authorized user, or vice versa
- Seven-year-long debts or older (Note: Discharged debts should be removed from your credit report, but bankruptcy will be reported.)
More importantly, your credit will be highly impacted if your closed accounts aren’t labeled properly and accordingly. You’ll know you’re badly affected once you get your credit score and see that your creditworthiness turns poor. With this in mind, these accounting errors should all be disputed before they end up negatively influencing your credit.
Steps in Disputing Credit Report Errors
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), both information providers and credit reporting agencies share similar responsibilities in correcting inaccurate information in your credit report. However, the stepping stone in disputing errors in your credit reports starts with you.
According to the FTC, you should take the following steps:
- Request copies of your credit report.
- Determine the errors in your credit report.
- Confirm these with your furnisher/s (e.g., your bank or a utility company)
- Write a dispute letter to credit bureaus, informing them about the letters. Append “copies” (not the original copies) of your report with highlighted errors and materials that support your position. Keep copies of everything you send.
- Within 30 days, call credit reporting agencies, follow-up your dispute, and ask what action they’ve taken. (Investigation usually takes less than a month.)
In a nutshell, you have to reach two key contacts to resolve this credit report error issue effectively. Correct the inaccurate information at the credit reporting agencies or credit bureaus (e.g., Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) and with your creditor or furnisher.
Everyone wants to have a stellar credit score. That’s why we keep making timely payments, having a solid combination of credit, and strategically maintaining a low credit usage. All of these will go to waste once a credit report error is neglected. Hence, you should keep close tabs on your credit reports and dispute inaccurate information at once.