Repairing Errors on your Credit Report
Every year, millions of Americans fall victim to identity theft.
With hackers, fraudsters, and thieves lurking in every sector from retail to fast food to information technology it can be hard to know who to trust, and even harder to learn how to protect yourself. Lucky for you, safeguarding your assets is easier than you think! It starts by building a strong foundation in credit awareness: keeping a vigilante eye on your credit.
Start by checking your credit report every year - at least once per year. Study it. Finding errors on your credit report is more common than you may think; in fact, one in five Americans will find an error on their credit report this year. Most errors are consistent with innocent clerical errors and are easy enough to fix; others, more malicious in nature, can be especially damaging, threatening your good name and your good credit.
Identifying Credit Errors
How do credit report errors occur?
It's common for people with the same name, or similar names, to get their files mixed up. When you or the other person applies for new credit (car loan, credit card, new home), the corresponding files may become shuffled together. Simple clerical error.
In the worst-case scenario, a person may illegally obtain your social security number and other personal information and open new lines of credit under your name. This error is especially difficult to prove, but diligence and documentation will prove your case in the end.
Those entities that supply you with lines of credit (banks, car dealers) are also capable of making clerical errors. They may post a missed payment under your name that was intended for a different "Joe Smith." Keeping track of important receipts will help you quickly clear the error.
Re-aging old debts
There are debts that will fall off your credit report after an allotted period of time; however, the reselling of these debts to third-party collectors can potentially restart the clock and force the debt to remain on your report longer than what is legal. When enlisting the help of a professional credit repair agency, make sure you furnish them with the entire history of these delinquent debts and they can help you clear them off your record.
Steps for Correction
When you spot errors on your credit report, there is no need to panic. Make a note of the error and take the following steps to file a report with the credit bureau. Properly filed disputes must be investigated within 30-45 days by the credit bureau; after that, they will issue a notice of their findings. If the error cannot be verified or they deem the item to be a real error, it will be removed from your credit report.
Follow these steps for filing a dispute with the credit bureau after finding an error on your credit report:
1. Prepare a well-documented, well-written dispute letter
- Send it via certified mail - document your tracking number - or submit a report online
- You can submit your letter through one of the following online portals:
2. When gathering evidence, submit copies of your documentation and carefully explain your claim.
- You will want to keep the original documents in case of emergency. They will also be useful for your credit repair agency when they represent you in proving your case.
- The more evidence you have, the stronger your case will be.
- Hiring a credit repair company will aid in the evidence gathering process and they will represent you during the dispute. It's always a good idea to enlist the help of professionals when dealing with errors on your credit.
3. Your dispute letter should be clear and concise.
- Proofread and correct any mistakes in spelling and grammatical errors.
- Quote the exact details of the error you are disputing. Include the line number, date, lender, and account number.
If you choose to send your dispute via certified mail, make sure you include your proper return address.