Credit Report Errors
Your credit report is your personal identity on paper. You can be accepted
or denied for loans or a job, without ever meeting someone, just based
on your credit report. So if there was a significant error on your report
you would want it corrected as soon as possible, wouldn’t you?
You want to periodically check your credit report for many reasons. You will want to make sure that all your information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date. There may be good credit that is not on there, or a negative mark that is a mistake but is going to adversely effect your credit rating. You may have been a victim of identity theft, and the effects will show up on your report.
Unfortunately, many people do not realize there may be something wrong with their credit report until they are abruptly denied some form of credit. The first thing you will want to do is get a copy of your credit report. You can receive one free copy from each of the three credit bureaus per year (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). There are a few steps you can take to get the mistakes removed.
If you do find a mistake on your credit report, you need to remain professional and not panic. Don’t call the creditor and start yelling and screaming, even if the person on the other end of the line is being rude. There might be a chance that you may have to make a legal case to clear your name, so all actions you take should be mature. The more polite you are, the more the other party will be willing to help you.
Document all your phone calls with the creditor and reporting agency. Write down the date and time, with who you spoke to, and important details of your conversation. This will make it easier to defend yourself and you will not have to try and remember everything and everyone you spoke with.
You will want to send the creditor and consumer reporting company, in writing, what information you think is inaccurate. Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each item in your report that you dispute, state the facts, explain why you dispute the information, and request that it be removed or corrected. You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled. Send your letter by certified mail, “return receipt requested,” so you can document that the consumer reporting company received the letter. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures. When writing the letters, don’t write “To Whom it May Concern.” Write to a person you have been dealing with and their supervisor. If that does not work, keep working up the ladder of command until you get a response and a result you are satisfied with. Just remember to be professional.
If you get the creditor to agree to fix the problem, make sure you get a confirmation letter. Ask for a copy of the universal data form (UDF). It’s the document that your creditor gives to the credit bureaus to update your report. It tells the credit bureau what is being changed, whether it is a balance update, a payment history change, an update of current status, or deletion due to an error. If they will not send you the UDF then ask for a letter confirming that the credit bureaus were notified of all changes.
In some instances there may be credit that you want reported that is not on your report. You may have some creditors that do not regularly report to the credit bureaus. In this case you will want to contact the consumer reporting company and ask them to add this information. Although they are not required to do so, many companies will add verifiable accounts for a fee.
Now that you have the option to obtain free reports, it is important to do so. It will be the best way for you to monitor your credit, to catch errors, and repair them before you are caught off guard.
Useful Phone numbers and addresses
Federal Trade Commission
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
(800) 685 - 1111
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-0949
(888) 397 - 3742
Trans Union Corp.
760 W. Sproul Rd.
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
(800) 888 - 4213
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