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Disputing Errors on Your Credit Report

You may be surprised to learn that 1 in 4 Americans have an error on their credit report. While many consider credit reports to be the source of truth for your financial history, the fact of the matter is, with the volume of data credit reporting bureaus are bringing in, errors on some reports are inevitable. This is why it’s critical that you review your credit report regularly and examine it for any inconsistencies.

Types of Errors

You could find any number of errors on your credit report, the most common are the following:

  • Identity errors: There is information on your credit report that is not yours. This could be due to identity theft, but more often this is due to a name mix up. If you have a common first and last name or a junior or senior suffix, it’s possible the data was simply incorrectly attributed to you.
  • Bad dates: We don’t mean bad dates like the ones you’ll find on Tinder. Bad dates here refer to inaccurate dates associated with certain events on your credit report. It’s critical that dates are correct, especially when associated with a negative information, as it could result in that information living on your credit report longer than it needs to.
  • Old data: Make sure the old data that should have since fallen off your report has been removed. It’s best not to assume that this will be done correctly every time.
  • Miscellaneous errors: Your credit report could also reflect inaccuracies like incorrect account balances, payment dates, or credit limits. Make sure all this information is correct when reviewing your report.

How to Dispute an Error

When you notice an error on your report, there are two parties that you should contact that are responsible for ensuring the information reflected is accurate:

  • The credit reporting company: Most credit reporting agencies will allow you to dispute data on your report using an online form on their website. You can also write the agency to correct the error, making sure to send copies of supporting documents along with it to make your case. Be sure to save the originals for your records.
  • The information provider where the credit reporting company got your data from

By law, once you have contacted the credit reporting agency to dispute their data, they are required to open an investigation into the issue and reach out to the information provider to review the evidence and determine if this is, in fact, an error that needs to be fixed. Once the investigation is completed, you can expect to receive a written report of the investigation and new copy of your credit report in the case that the investigation results in a change. In this case, you can also request that the credit reporting agency resend your credit report to anyone who has requested it in the last 6 months.

If the investigation does not result in any changes on your report, but you still believe the data is inaccurate, you can request that a statement be included next to the information to give your side of the story to anyone reviewing your credit report. 

Disputing the data on your report comes at no cost to you and, once the errors are corrected, you may see your credit score jump a potentially significant amount. However, it would not be wise to use the error reporting processes to try to have negative, but accurate, information removed from your report. Credit reporting agencies do have systems in place to flag suspicious requests. If you’re looking to raise your credit score, you should take these steps to improve your score instead. The moral of the story here is that it’s critical to take the time at least once a year to review your credit report for any errors – you may be surprised to find that a quick fix could raise your score!

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