You just got your credit report and something feels off. Your credit score seems too low. You dig deeper and find out that, lo and behold, there were a bunch of mistakes that led to your lower score. First of all, UGH. And second, you need to quickly fix the errors on your credit report.
Thankfully, there’s a credible process by which you can report errors and fix them. And you really should because your credit score—that magical three-figure number—is the key to your buying power. It determines whether you can buy your dream home, what your interest rate is on a loan, and can impact your ability to start a new job. It’s important to fix the mistakes and continuously monitor your credit, but more on that below.
Mistakes happen—tons of them
There are a shocking amount of errors when it comes to credit reports. In fact, the #1 complaint received by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had to do with wrong information listed on consumers’ credit reports.
So Congress asked the Federal Trade Commission to do a study. Their findings were shocking. They discovered that a whopping 26% of credit reports were wrong. Translation: one out of four Americans had credit reports with the wrong information.
A subsequent report a few years later found that some people in the original study who started the dispute process gave up before fixing the mistakes. Why? Because they found that the process was too time-consuming, too difficult, or simply didn’t see the value in fixing the issue.
Common credit report errors
f you have used different names to apply for credit (e.g., Bob and Robert), that can lead to a mistake. So always use the same name on such applications. And be careful when it comes to your Social Security number and address—be sure to get that information right.
Another common mistake people make is forgetting to include the right information. Errors of omission happen all the time and usually have to do with not including all of your credit accounts on a report. Other common mistakes include:
- Clerical errors and typos in your credit report;
- A former spouse’s debts are included on their ex-spouse’s report; and
- Identity theft – when identity thieves steal your personal information and apply for credit in your name. This can severely damage your credit score and is the most dangerous error of all.
How to resolve common errors
You can resolve nonidentity theft-related errors in your credit report by following these simple steps:
- Contact each of the credit bureaus and inform them of the mistake.
- Contact the business or organization that provided the wrong info to the credit bureau to inform them of the mistake.
- Monitor future credit reports to ensure the reporting errors have been resolved.
All three of the major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, have online processes to dispute information on your credit report:
You can also call or mail the credit bureaus should you not be comfortable using the web to file your complaint. Credit bureaus must investigate your complaint within 30 days (unless they deem the complaint frivolous).
Resolving your credit errors can be more complicated if you are a victim of identity theft. Learn here about steps to take if you have had your identity stolen and how long it can take.
Don’t just worry about the credit bureaus
The credit bureaus aren’t the only ones that report on your credit. Other companies such as “tenant background checkers” collect info on your work history and past salaries.
Consumers often don’t even know these companies exist. But mistakes in these files also can harm your credit score. The lesson here is to investigate and be aware of all companies that have access to your credit info. If you can find the company report that resulted in an unfavorable decision, then you can challenge it if there was a mistake made.
IDShield can help
To get help finding errors in your credit score, you need monthly credit monitoring. Signing up with IDShield will get you 1 or 3 bureau monitoring plus one-on-one consultation to answer all of your questions and help ensure that your credit score stays safe.
We offer a free trial so you can learn what else we offer, like dark web monitoring, online reputation management, digital device protection, malware, and more.
Think of IDShield as your all-inclusive solution to identity protection, monitoring, reputation management and restoration.
IDShield is a product of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. d/b/a LegalShield (“LegalShield”). LegalShield provides access to identity theft protection and restoration services. For complete terms, coverage and conditions, please see www.idshield.com. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. This is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for legal advice or assistance. If you are a LegalShield member, you should contact your Provider Law Firm.