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How to correct your credit report FAQs

Your financial well being depends on you knowing how to correct your credit report when necessary. Your credit score is the key that enables you to access all kinds of financial services, from credit cards to mortgages. It also determines the price you pay for borrowing money. It is, therefore, essential that your credit report is a true and accurate reflection of the way in which you have managed your credit and finances. If you have a poor credit score and this is a true reflection of your financial history, then that is fair enough, but if your credit report underestimates your desirability as a borrower, as a result of incorrect information, then you are essentially being forced to suffer for someone else’s errors. A credit report error can cause you to pay higher interest than you should when you borrow, and result in you having to pay higher insurance premiums. It can also lead to loan applications being declined. Some people even get passed up for jobs and promotions as a result of incorrect credit scores.  

If you ever check your credit report and find that it has one or more errors in it, you are not alone. According to a Consumer Reports study around 34% of Americans have found at least one mistake on their credit report. The question is, once you find these mistakes, what can you do about them?  It is possible to correct credit report errors, especially with the help of a financial lawyer.

What can you do if your credit report has errors?

There are two kinds of errors that can occur on a credit report: those pertaining to your financial activity and accounts, and those involving your personal information. In either case, you need to contact the credit reporting agencies with a formal request in writing to amend the erroneous information. Your letter must be accompanied by all relevant documentation to prove the validity of your complaint. The agency will either accept your request and amend the information, or it will request further substantiation or deny it completely. If you are not happy with the outcome of your dispute, a credit report error lawyer can advise you on the next steps.

Can you sue a company for incorrect credit reporting?

You always have the right to dispute any inaccuracies in your report and, should you be able to provide evidence in support of your complaint, the credit reporting agency in question is obligated to make the correction. If the reporting agency does not make the change, you can then either file another complaint and include more information, or contact the creditor directly and ask them to correct the report with the agency from their side. If neither party is willing to assist you, resulting in further financial harm to you, you can certainly consider suing the reporting agency and/or the relevant creditor. You may be able to win actual damages, statutory damages, court costs, and more, depending on the specifics of the situation.

How can I fight an incorrect credit report?

The first step is always to draft a letter to the relevant credit reporting agency. One of our lawyers can assist you in drawing up a letter with all the necessary information. The letter must be accompanied by whatever documentation is required to prove your claim.

If this initial attempt fails, you can either keep filing complaints (provided you offer additional information each time), or you can change your approach and go directly to the creditor that reported you in the first place. If your complaints do not yield any results, then you can take legal action.

What if someone else’s information is in your credit report?

If you see someone else’s information on your credit report, you need to contact the credit bureau in writing. Briefly state what is wrong and why, and provide evidence to back up your correction. Credit bureaus have 30 days to respond to these disputes. This problem is actually more common than you may think. Provided you have the documentation to back up the requested amendment, it should be relatively easy to clear up.

What if you have a debt discharged in bankruptcy that is not updated on your credit report?

When you file for bankruptcy, it remains on your report for up to ten years. When you discharge your debts, the lender can no longer collect on them, and you are no longer legally responsible for paying them. If a debt is reported as delinquent before you file for bankruptcy, it will drop off your report seven years after the date of delinquency. If the debt had not been reported as delinquent by the time you filed for bankruptcy, it will be removed from your report seven years after the date of your filing. With this in mind, if you find that a discharged debt is still on your credit report, check the date that the initial delinquency report was made and/or the date you filed for bankruptcy. If it has been more than seven years, in either case, you must contact the credit bureau and ask for the debt to be removed. Again, be sure to include all the necessary documents.

Why it is crucial to dispute incorrect credit reports

Your credit report is perhaps the most important document in your financial life. It contains information about where you live and work, and your entire financial history: how you pay your bills, whether you have ever been sued for non-payment, whether liens have been filed against you, or if you have filed for bankruptcy. Using this information, credit bureaus calculate your credit score, which determines whether you can get a credit card, obtain a mortgage, or apply for any other credit. Incorrect information can adversely affect your ability to get credit, as well as inflate the price you will pay for borrowing. They can even affect your ability to get insurance or secure a job. Therefore, it is vital to check your credit report regularly and ensure that the information it contains is correct. If you find inaccuracies, you must correct them immediately.

What are common credit report errors that I should look for on your credit report?

The most common errors on credit reports actually don’t relate to your financial activity at all, but instead, involve your personal information. Always check that your name is correct, that it is spelled as it should be, and that your correct residential address is on the report. 

Aside from identity errors, you should also look out for any possible duplications in the report. It is pretty common for the same debt to be listed twice or even several times. It could be listed under different creditor names, so keep a close eye on the numbers. This can happen when a company to which you are indebted changes ownership or changes its name.

Also, pay close attention to the balances on your report. For example, credit limits on credit cards are often reported incorrectly. There could also be errors in the status of your accounts. Accounts that are closed may be reported as still open – or vice versa. You may also find that an account that you have been paying on time is reported as being in arrears.

What do you do if you think you have been a victim of identity theft?

You may look through your credit report and find debts listed there that you don’t recognize. These could be a result of incorrect reporting by creditors, or by the bureau itself. On the other hand, it could be that someone has stolen your identity and incurred debts in your name. If you believe this has happened, contact the fraud alert department of the relevant credit agency and place a fraud alert on your report. This will prevent any further accounts from being fraudulently opened in your name. The agency will ask you to verify your identity with your Social Security number, name, address, etc.

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