How to Fix an Error on Your Credit Report
Checking your credit score regularly and reviewing your credit report annually are two key things that can help you maintain a strong score or make improvements. If you find that your credit score plunged, it’s important to take a close look at your credit report and determine what caused it. You may find that a delinquent account is dragging you down, you might find an error on your report, or you might discover some fraudulent activity. Even if your score remains steady, it’s a good idea to review your full credit report once a year and make sure everything looks accurate.
If you find a mistake or an error on your credit report you should take action to fix it quickly before anyone uses your flawed report and score to make a decision about you.
3 Steps to Correct an Error on Your Credit Report
Step 1: Get a copy of your credit report
First, get a copy of your credit report. Based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to request a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from any of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. To get your annual free credit report, visit AnnualCreditReport.com, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Do not contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies individually.
Step 2: Review your credit report and identify errors
Get familiar with your credit report. You can think of your credit report in four categories:
- Personal information: your name, current and previous addresses, your employer, etc.
- Public records: bankruptcies, repossessions and foreclosures
- Credit accounts: open and closed accounts and payment history
- Inquiries: recent applications for credit will appear on your report and remain on it for 24 months
Is there something reported that shouldn’t be on there? Delinquencies and derogatory marks have a huge impact – making up 35% of your FICO score! Personal information errors typically don’t affect your credit score, but they could alert you to a reporting issue or possibly identity theft.
Step 3: Take Action – File a Dispute
If you find an error in your credit report you should contact the credit bureau that you got your report from and request a correction. Visit Transunion, Equifax and Experian’s websites to get specific directions and details on how to file disputes with each bureau online, by phone or by mail.
- Step 1: Tell the credit reporting company what information you think is inaccurate. Have the proper documents that support your position handy.
- Step 2: Tell the person, company, or organization that provided the incorrect information about you to a credit reporting company that you dispute an item in your credit report.
- Step 3: Check your credit report from the other bureaus to see if they also had the same error so you can file a dispute with them too.
Keep a pulse on your credit score so you can take quick action if you notice there is a surprising change. Your credit report includes all of your credit history and sifting through it annually will help you catch any discrepancies that may be dragging your score down. You can also sign up for credit monitoring tools to continually watch your credit profile and get access to your credit score.