According to the consumer industry, nearly 25% of all consumers have an error on their credit report. This means that 1 in 5 consumers are walking around with a report that does not accurately reflect their financial status and payment history. Whether you are a responsible consumer or a little careless with your credit, you deserve to have your report accurately reflect your ability to pay.
Given the fact that your credit report affects your ability to get a loan, a job, a mortgage, a credit card, even an apartment, your report should be accurate. You can’t ensure the accuracy of your report unless you request a copy, so the first step to handling a mistake on your credit report is to know it is there. Order a copy of your report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) you are entitled to one free copy of your report annually. You can order a copy of your report at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Try to make a habit of reviewing your credit report at least once a year. Many people order reports from Credit Karma, and we have written about these reports in the past on this blog. When reviewing your report for inaccuracies, we recommend you go directly to the bureaus, and NOT Credit Karma.
When you receive your report, begin checking for errors. Make a list of accounts you don’t recognize or that are not in good standing. These accounts are damaging to your report and if you are not sure that they are accurate or if they belong to you, you will want to look into them further. If you believe you have inaccurate accounts on your credit report, the FCRA mandates that upon notice from a consumer (you) the credit reporting agencies must investigate any dispute and complete the investigation within 30 days.
It is best to send a letter to the agencies certified mailing address to ensure it is received, explaining in detail what is wrong with your report. The more specific you are, the more extensive the investigation. Your letter should include your name, address and social security number; a detailed explanation of the inaccurate information; and any documents that support your position. Make sure you keep a copy of all paperwork. To further support your position, you can send a dispute to the provider that supplied the information to the credit reporting agencies. The FCRA does not require you to contact the provider directly but it certainly does not hurt to try to fix the problem from both sides. The addresses for the Credit Reporting Agencies are as follows:
Experian Information Solutions, P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013
Trans Union, LLC. P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016
Equifax Information Services, P.O. box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374
Should the information remain the same, you are entitled to re-dispute or possibly to file suit against both the credit reporting agencies and provider of information under the FCRA. If you believe your rights have been violated under the FCRA and would like the advice or assistance of counsel, contact SmithMarco P.C. for a completely free case review.