How to Correct Common Credit Report Errors and Improve Your Score | Bill Clanton

How to Correct Common Credit Report Errors and Improve Your Score

Using the law to break down credit report errors.

Your Credit Report: Spotting the Danger Signs

Your credit report contains a wealth of sensitive personal and financial information about you. Credit card companies, lenders, landlords, insurance providers and even some employers use the details in this report to evaluate your creditworthiness and make important decisions that impact your life. Because of how crucial this report is, it’s extremely important that all the information contained in it is completely accurate and error-free.

Unfortunately, credit report errors are incredibly common. A major study by the Federal Trade Commission found that one out of every four credit reports contained errors serious enough that they could result in the denial of credit, employment, housing or insurance, or cause consumers to pay more for loans and services.

Key Study Findings:

- 25% of consumers had errors on their credit reports significant enough to cause denial of credit or other harm 
- 5% had errors that could lead to them paying more for products like auto loans and insurance
- Over 20 million consumers had errors that were so significant they may have been denied credit

The consequences of credit report errors can be severe and far-reaching, including:

  • Being denied for a mortgage, auto loan, credit card, rental housing, or job
  • Paying higher interest rates on loans and credit cards
  • Being unable to open new credit accounts or obtain new lines of credit
  • Having to pay higher security deposits for rental housing and utilities
  • Having to pay higher premiums for auto or home insurance

Common Credit Report Errors

Some of the most common and serious errors found on credit reports relate to identity theft and fraud. If someone has stolen your personal information like your name, date of birth, Social Security number or other identifying details, they may have been able to open fraudulent credit accounts and accumulate debts in your name without your knowledge. Because identity theft is such a huge problem, these errors are more common.

Other frequent and significant errors include:

  • Accounts that don’t belong to you being listed on your report
  • Public records like bankruptcies or foreclosures that aren’t yours
  • Incorrect late payment markings, delinquencies, and other account reporting errors
  • Accounts that are incorrectly listed as in collections or charged-off by the creditor.
  • Incorrectly listed credit limits or loan balances
  • Errors in personal information like name, address or employment details

No matter how seemingly small or inconsequential an error on your credit report may appear, it’s important to get it investigated and corrected as quickly as possible. Even minor errors in the information on your credit reports can spiral into much bigger issues that seriously damage your creditworthiness over time.

Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act

Fortunately, you have rights and legal protections when it comes to credit report errors under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This is a federal law that regulates the consumer credit reporting industry and the three major national credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

The FCRA requires that the credit bureaus follow reasonable procedures to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of credit reports. It gives you the right to obtain free annual credit reports and to dispute any incomplete or inaccurate information on your reports. The credit reporting agencies are legally required to investigate any items you dispute within 30 days (unless they consider the dispute frivolous).

If the credit bureaus do not fix errors on your credit report after you have provided supporting documentation and evidence, you should dispute it again and potentially pursue legal action against the bureaus.

It’s a good idea to order free copies of your credit reports monthly from the government-authorized website AnnualCreditReport.com and review them carefully for any potential errors or signs of identity theft. This allows you to catch mistakes early before they cause serious damage.

If you do find errors on your reports, you’ll need to dispute them separately in writing with each of the three major credit bureaus, providing details about the mistakes and any relevant documentation like account statements, payment records, etc. The Federal Trade Commission provides sample dispute letters you can use.

You may also want to file an identity theft report with the FTC if it appears someone has misused your personal information. Additionally, file a dispute with the credit reporting company to address errors on credit reports. Their IdentityTheft.gov website provides step-by-step instructions.

In addition to the FTC fraud affidavit a police report is a valuable tool in disputing identity theft related errors. Call your local police department’s non-emergency number and ask to make a report. They may want you to go the police department or may be able to do it over the phone. It’s important to have a good idea of what happened so you can tell the police and they can include it in their report. 

If credit bureaus refuse to fix legitimate errors on your reports, you have the option of hiring a consumer lawyer and potentially taking legal action. Under the FCRA, you can sue credit bureaus and data furnishers (the companies reporting information to the bureaus) in state or federal court for violations.

You may be able to recover your actual damages caused by negligent or willful violations, attorney’s fees, court costs, and potentially punitive damages. It’s important to consult with a qualified consumer law attorney who has experience dealing with FCRA cases.

Many consumer lawyers will take these types of cases on a contingency fee basis, where you don’t pay any attorney’s fees upfront. Instead, the lawyer receives a percentage (often 33-40%) of any settlement or court award you receive.

There are also a number of consumer advocacy groups like the聽National Consumer Law Center聽and non-profit law firms that may be able to provide assistance or resources related to credit reporting issues.

Don’t let errors on your credit report dictate your financial future. Act now to protect your creditworthiness and secure the financial opportunities you deserve. If you’ve found inaccuracies or suspect identity theft, our experienced legal team is here to help.

馃憠 Contact us today for a free consultation and let our experts guide you through correcting your credit report errors. Your financial health is too important to leave to chance鈥攖ake the first step towards a cleaner, accurate credit report now!

Schedule Your Free Consultation

Protect Your Credit

An error on your credit report, no matter how seemingly insignificant, has the potential to cause ongoing credit score damage and negatively impact your financial life for years to come if left unresolved. Errors on credit reports can lead to higher interest rates on loans, difficulty obtaining new credit or services, issues with housing and employment, hits to your credit score, and more.

Make a habit of checking your credit reports regularly by utilizing your free annual reports and immediately reporting any errors you identify to the credit bureaus. While resolving credit reporting mistakes requires diligence and persistence, the payoff of an accurate credit profile is invaluable for your financial present and future. Don’t let errors rob you of the credit rating you’ve worked hard to build and deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are some common credit report errors to look out for?

A: Common errors include identity theft, mixed files, incorrect personal information, outdated account data, duplicate accounts, and erroneous payment history. It’s important to thoroughly review your credit report for inaccuracies.

Q: How often should you check you credit report?

A: Everyone should check their credit reports at least once a year. The three credit bureaus offer a free report every week through AnnualCreditReport.com, allowing you to monitor your credit history and identify any errors. There you can get all the information contained in your credit report and look for anything you don’t recognize. 

Q: How do I dispute credit report errors?

A: To dispute credit report errors, you need to contact the credit bureau that issued the report. The best practice is to send a letter certified mail return receipt requested. Include evidence supporting your claim and request a correction. The bureaus typically have an online dispute process for convenience, but they rarely work and have severe limitations.

Q: What should I do if I find an error on credit report?

A: If you find an error, gather supporting documents and contact the credit bureau to file a dispute. Also, notify the creditor associated with the error. The bureau will investigate and, if necessary, correct the mistake.

Q: How can I get a free copy of my credit report?

A: You can obtain a free credit report annually from each of the three credit bureaus鈥擡quifax, Experian, and TransUnion鈥攖hrough AnnualCreditReport.com. This helps you keep track of your credit history and spot common errors.

Q: Can identity theft impact my credit report?

A: Yes, being a victim of identity theft is the most common cause of fraudulent accounts and inaccurate information in your credit report. Regularly review your credit report to catch and dispute any unauthorized activity immediately.

Q: Who are the three major credit reporting bureaus?

A: The three major credit reporting bureaus in the United States are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These credit agencies maintain consumer reports and provide credit scores based on your credit history.

Q: What happens if the credit bureau doesn’t fix the error on my report?

A: Credit reporting agencies must conduct an investigation when they get your dispute. If the credit bureau doesn鈥檛 correct the error, you can send another dispute or consider legal action to sue the credit bureaus. It’s essential to keep detailed records of your dispute efforts and to keep disputing the errors…don’t give up. 

Q: How can fixing errors on my credit report improve my credit score?

A: Correcting errors in your credit reports can improve your credit score by ensuring accurate information, which reflects positively on your credit utilization ratio, payment history, and overall creditworthiness.

Q: What are some common types of credit errors?

A: Common types of credit errors include incorrect personal details, inaccurate account statuses, double reporting of loans, and unauthorized hard inquiries. Ensuring these are accurate is crucial for maintaining a good credit score.

About The Author

Bill Clanton

Over the years my office has helped thousands of consumers who were cheated, ripped-off, and mistreated by debt collectors, credit reporting agencies, banks, credit unions, and car dealers. If you have a problem with a business being dishonest with you give me a call. I鈥檇 love to set them straight.