How to fix errors on your credit report.
Your credit score is a critical part of your financial life. It affects everything from the interest rate you pay on a mortgage to the amount you pay for car insurance. A low credit score can even keep you from renting an apartment or getting a job.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your credit report is accurate. If there are errors on your credit report, they could be lowering your score and costing you money.
Fortunately, if you find errors on your credit report, you can file a dispute with the credit reporting agency to have them removed. We’ve written some tips below on what steps to take to make that happen.
How do errors on my credit report happen?
Credit reports are like a mirror that reflect our credit history. They show how we have managed our debts in the past, and creditors use them to decide whether to give us new loans. Unfortunately, sometimes credit reports contain errors, and these errors can be very costly.
Sometimes creditors make mistakes when they report our account activity to the credit bureaus. These mistakes can show up on our credit reports and lower our credit scores.
If you find an error on your credit report, you should contact the credit bureau and the creditor to correct the mistake. The credit bureau is usually responsible for correcting the mistake, although the creditor may need to report it as well. Be sure to keep good records when you dispute a problem with your credit report, and follow up until it has been corrected.
We explain exactly how to do that below.
What do you do if you have a low credit score?
If you’re trying to improve your credit score, there are a few things you can do. You can start by paying all your bills on time, maintaining a good credit utilization ratio, and keeping your accounts open and active. You can also try to get a mix of different types of credit, such as installment loans and credit cards.
Checking your credit score regularly for errors is a good way to stay on top of your credit health. By understanding your score and what factors influence it, you can take steps to improve your creditworthiness.
First, review your credit history.
There are many ways to get free credit reports. You’ll need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth.
Your credit score is made up of five categories: payment history (35%), credit utilization (30%), length of credit history (15%), new credit (10%), and types of credit used (10%). Make a note of anything that might be affecting your score in these categories, such as late payments or high credit card balances. You’ll also want to check your open accounts, including any loans or lines of credit.
Get a copy of your credit report and review it for errors.
Disputing items on your credit report can be an important step in improving your credit score. This is because it shows creditors that you are taking an active interest in your credit and are willing to stand up for yourself. It also allows you to get any errors corrected, which will help boost your credit score even further.
To read your credit report and check for errors, you need to access your credit report from one of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each agency may have slightly different information about your accounts because they collect data from different sources. Your report will show only the information that is relevant to determine your creditworthiness.
To check for errors on your credit report, look for:
- Incorrect account information, such as account numbers, credit limits, and balances
- Incorrect personal information, such as your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth
- Incorrect payment history
- Accounts that don’t belong to you
- Delinquent accounts that have been paid
- Incorrect credit inquiries
If you find any errors, you should contact the credit reporting agency and the company that supplied the information to have the error corrected. You may also want to place a fraud alert on your credit report if you suspect that your personal information has been compromised.
What do you do if you suspect fraudulent activity on your account?
If you suspect that your personal information has been compromised, the first thing you should do is place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert will notify creditors to take extra steps to verify your identity before granting any new credit in your name.
There are three ways to place a fraud alert on your credit report:
- By phone – To place a fraud alert by phone, contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies and ask them to add an initial fraud alert to your report. You will need to provide some personal information so that they can verify your identity.
- Online – If you prefer to place a fraud alert online, you can visit the website of any of the three credit reporting agencies. Again, you will need to provide some personal information so that they can verify your identity.
- Mail – you can place a fraud alert by mail by sending a letter to each of the three credit reporting agencies. This means sending sensitive personal information through the mail, however, which could be risky.
Once you have placed a fraud alert on your credit report, the credit reporting agencies will notify the other two agencies. Your report from each agency will also be flagged so that it can’t be viewed by potential creditors until the initial fraud alert expires.
What to do if your credit card has been compromised?
If you suspect that your credit or debit card has been compromised, contact your bank immediately to report the issue and have your card canceled and replaced. Fraudulent activity is usually detected quickly, so taking action as soon as possible can help minimize any potential damage.
How to prevent personal information from getting stolen:
Along with placing a fraud alert on your credit report, you should also take extra care to protect your personal information. This includes avoiding public Wi-Fi networks, keeping your computer and mobile devices updated with the latest security software and patches, and regularly reviewing your financial statements for any suspicious activity.
Dispute any errors on your credit report with the major credit reporting agencies.
Compare your credit report with your personal records. Make sure that all information is accurate and up-to-date, including contact information for you as well as any addresses where you’ve lived in the past few years. Any accounts listed on your credit report should be matching up with your records.
Next, file a dispute if you find any errors. If you notice anything that doesn’t look correct, contact the credit reporting agency and ask them to investigate. Most agencies will respond within 30 days of receiving your complaint.
After that, follow up on your dispute. The credit reporting agency will investigate your dispute, and they are required by law to correct any errors that they find. If you don’t receive a response or if your dispute is rejected, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Finally, consider adding positive items to your credit history.
Removing false, negative items from your credit report should have the obvious effect of increasing your score, but sometimes it can have the opposite effect. If you have a lot of negative items, then removing them may cause your score to drop because it will lower the average age of your accounts.
Adding positive items, like authorized user tradelines, can help increase your credit score. Authorized user tradelines are lines of credit that are extended to you by someone else with an account with perfect payment history.
By becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit account, you can improve your credit score by piggybacking on their good credit history. Just make sure that the account is in good standing and that the primary account holder makes all of their payments on time. The way to best ensure this is to get your tradelines through an authorized, professional tradelines company.
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to protect our credit reports from errors in the first place.
Whether there are errors in your credit reports or not, you should always be mindful of how you manage your credit. This means making all your payments on time, not exceeding the credit limits on your accounts, and keeping old accounts open instead of closing them.
If you want to protect against any future mistakes on your credit report, consider signing up for a credit monitoring service. This way, you can be alerted to any changes on your report so that you can catch errors early and dispute them before they have a chance to impact your score.
Overall, having a good credit history is one of the most important things we can do to protect ourselves from costly mistakes in our finances. By taking steps to manage our credit wisely and by staying vigilant about errors, we can help ensure that our credit reports accurately reflect our financial situation and history.
Ultimately, maintaining good credit is about being responsible and proactively managing your finances. By following these tips, you can help protect your credit and keep your finances on track.