In light of recent events surrounding the Equifax Breach, you may find yourself checking your credit report more often and more thoroughly. Let’s look at why your credit report is important, and if you find an error – how to handle it.
Good credit is an important part of your overall financial well-being. It can impact everything from the interest rates you’ll pay on a loan to being a prerequisite for employment. It’s important to review your credit report periodically and be on the lookout for any fraudulent activity. You may get your free credit report once a year from the Annual Credit Report Request Service at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling (877) 322-8228.
If you should find an error, you’ll want to try to fix the errors as soon as possible. Your first step should be to contact the credit reporting agency in writing to indicate that you are disputing the information contained on your credit report. The credit reporting agency usually has 30 days to complete an investigation of the disputed information. Once the credit reporting agency investigation is complete, they must provide you with written results of their investigation.
If during its investigation, the credit reporting agency confirms that your credit report does contain errors, the information on your report must be either removed or corrected. If the investigation does not resolve the issue, you still have a couple of options. First, you can try to mitigate the disputed information by adding a 100-word consumer statement to your credit bureau file. Even though consumer statements are often dismissed or ignored by potential creditors, it can at least provide you with a chance to tell your side of the story. You can also try to resolve the issue with the creditor that submitted the inaccurate information in the first place. The creditor will be obligated to investigate the disputed issue and notify you of its findings.
If you believe that the error is the result of identity theft, you may need to take additional steps to try to resolve the issue, such as placing a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report. You can visit the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft website www.consumer.gov/idtheft or call (877) IDTHEFT for more information on the various identity theft protections that might be available to you. There are also links to the credit bureaus on the site which we have reproduced below.
Finally, due to the amount of paperwork and steps involved, fixing a credit report error can often be a time-consuming and emotionally draining process. If at any time you believe that your credit reporting rights are being violated, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at www.consumerfinance.gov.
Links and Contact Information for Credit Bureaus