Your credit report. It’s not terribly exciting, but it could keep you from enjoying some of life’s most exciting milestones: Buying a car. Owning a home. Even getting a new job.
So it’s important to check in on your credit every once in a while. You want to know where you stand. And you also want to watch out for credit report errors.
To find and dispute errors on your credit report, you’ll first need to obtain a copy of it.
You’ll see a lot of websites and advertisements boasting free credit reports and scores. The only one that’s truly free, no strings attached? AnnualCreditReport.com.
By law, you’re entitled to a free copy of your report from each of the three credit bureaus each year. That’s TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
Let’s say you get a copy of your report, and everything looks clean. Well, then you’re good to go! But what if you spot an error? Here’s what you should do.
Step two: Dispute errors. You’ll need to write a letter to the bureau telling them what information is inaccurate. You can find a sample letter on CreditCards.com.
Don’t use the online form provided by the bureau – it limits how much proof you can attach, and may require you to sign away some of your rights.
Here’s what your correspondence should include: Copies of documents that prove your claim. A clear identification of the error. State the facts, briefly and simply, and request a deletion or correction. You may also want to include a copy of your credit report.
Step three: Keep records. Once your letter is written, keep a copy. If you’re mailing it, send it certified and keep the receipt.
Once your letter is received, the bureaus have to reinvestigate the items in question, usually within 30 days. They’ll also notify the party holding the error. That might be a bank or lender, for example.
If there is an error, all credit bureaus will be notified, so your report can be updated. If your report’s been changed, you’ll get another free copy of it.
And, if your report is updated, you can request the bureaus to send correction notices to anyone who’s pulled your report in the past six months. If your dispute is denied, you may add a 100-word statement to your report, describing your side of the dispute.
It’s worth it to periodically check your credit report. If you do spot an error, you’ll want to tackle it as soon as you can. Kristin Wong, CreditCards.com.
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