What Errors Should I Be Looking For On My Credit Report?
You do everything you can to build a stellar credit score — you make on-time payments, have a solid mix of credit and are strategic in keeping your credit usage low. But errors on your credit report could potentially ding your score when you apply for a loan or credit. Per a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study, one in five Americans have an error on their credit report that makes them deemed less creditworthy than they actually are.
Which errors on a credit report could impact your score, and how do you fix credit report errors? Below, read about the top errors you should look for on a credit report and how to check for them.
How To Check Your Credit Reports
To see what errors are on your credit report, you’ll want to do a credit report check. For access to your credit report, you’re able to get one free credit report from each of the three major consumer credit bureaus (TransUnion®, Equifax and Experian). The sweet thing about this is that since you can get one for free from each within a 12-month cycle, you have the option to either order all three at the same time or stagger them by ordering one every few months or so. You just need to request your reports from Annual Credit Report.
While you can gain access to your credit report for free, the credit bureau usually charges a fee for your score. If you want to check your credit score, Rocket HQSM lets you check your credit score for free, plus gives you steps you can take to improve it.
Common Mistakes Found On Credit Reports
Because reports from the three bureaus report different information, you’ll want to request a report from each. Once you receive the report, make sure to go over them carefully with a fine-toothed comb.
Here are a handful of common errors you might come across when looking over your credit report:
This could include errors in your personal information such as the misspelling of your name, the wrong name altogether or incorrect contact info such as your address or phone number.
Didn’t open that retail credit card? If you were a victim of identity theft, there could be accounts that you didn’t open. There also might be accounts that belong to someone who has the same name as you or a name that’s similar to yours.
Upon closer inspection, you might find that the same debt is listed several times. It might be listed under different names or creditors, so be sure to look at all the numbers. This could happen when a creditor or lender undergoes acquisition and there’s a name change.
Common errors with your balance could be the wrong amount on your balance or the wrong credit limit. The credit limit on a credit card might be reported higher or lower than what it actually is.
There might be mistakes in the actual status of your accounts. For instance, maybe an account that should still be open is reported as closed, or vice versa. There could also be accounts where you’ve been making on-time payments and yet they’re reported as delinquent or late.
Other misinformation might be the wrong date of when an account was opened or closed, when you last made a payment or when you started being late or defaulting on your payments.
What’s more, you might be listed as an authorized user on an account when you are actually the primary account holder or the other way around.
How Can I Remove Errors From My Credit Report?
Let’s say you found a mistake. How can you fix credit report errors? You’ll want to file a dispute with the credit bureau from which the error was found. It doesn’t cost you anything to do — just a bit of your time.
The credit bureau is required to respond to the dispute within 30 days. Here’s how you can contact them:
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
You can submit a dispute directly on Experian’s website, call them at 1-888-397-3742 or write to them with your information at:
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
It can certainly pay to take the time to dispute errors on your credit report. Per an FTC follow-up study, about 20% of those who pinpointed mistakes on one of their credit reports experienced a boost in their credit score. In turn, it actually put them in a lower risk tier, which increased their creditworthiness.
As you can see, by keeping a close watch on your credit by requesting credit reports and monitoring your score on the regular, you can nip errors on your credit report in the bud. In turn, you’ll ensure your credit reports are accurate and that your score is as strong as it can be.
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