Your credit report is one of the most important components of your financial life. Having a good credit score plays a significant role in whether you can do things such as renting or buying a home and an automobile.
Whether you are working to establish credit, you want to repair your credit, or you want to maintain a good credit score, regular monitoring of where you stand is important. If you’re monitoring your credit report on a regular basis, not only will you be able to see where you need to make improvements. You’ll also be able to see if there are mistakes or errors.
It’s not uncommon for there to be errors on a credit report. For example, in 2012 the Federal Trade Commission reported around 25 percent of consumers in the U.S. found errors that could affect their credit score.
What should you know if you do spot a possible error on your credit report?
Contact the Credit Reporting Company
If you think you see an error on your credit report, the first step you should take is letting the credit reporting company know. You should do this in writing, and there are sample dispute letter templates available online. You’ll need to go into detail about what you believe is an error or what you think needs to be taken off your report or corrected.
Depending on the bureau where you see the error, you may also be able to file a dispute online.
If you have any supporting information to back up your claim, you’ll need to include that as well.
Contact the Company Providing the Information
The company that provided the incorrect information should be contacted as well—sometimes you might want to contact them before you contact the actual credit bureau because they may be able to fix an error faster.
For example, if it’s a credit card company, you might be able to find their contact information on your credit report.
Give It Time
If you do contact the credit reporting bureau and the company providing the incorrect information, you’ll need to give it time. It can take up to 45 days for an investigation to occur and for a response to be issued.
When you are checking your report, you can look at common mistakes that can cause errors. For example, sometimes your credit report might have information that’s actually from another person who has a name similar to yours. You need to make sure whenever you’re applying for credit or handling anything financially that you always put your name consistently across the board.
Other errors can include having the debts of a former spouse still on your credit report or having information on your credit report from more than seven years ago that should have been removed after that time.