Your credit rating is very important and ensuring that it's current is your job. When you receive your annual free credit report, be sure to review it and update any information that might harm your credit standing.
Most Frequent Errors
The Federal Trade Commission has reported that more than 20% of all the complaints that it receives are about inaccurate credit reports. Complaints on the most frequent errors in credit reports include:
- Errors cause by dumping incorrect computerized account records into the files of credit reporting agencies (CRA)
- Errors in collecting information from bad public record information
- Errors of information for the wrong person
- Identity theft information is furnished to credit reporting agencies and entered under the victim's credit history
- Errors entering information into the CRA's computer system (mixed up numbers, incorrect spellings, etc.)
- Errors showing inconsistent information for the same person, for example showing both "current" and "in default" status for the same account.
- Errors reporting incomplete credit information
Error Reporting and Investigation Procedures
If you believe that your credit report contains inaccurate or incomplete information, you can send a notice of dispute or a written request for reinvestigation to a credit reporting agency. The three major agencies are Equifax, Experian, TransUnion. Be sure to include:
- Your name and address
- Statements identifying the item or items you believe are inaccurate or incomplete
- An explanation why you believe the information is incorrect
- Include copies (not originals) of billing statements, cancelled checks or other documents supporting your dispute
- State the corrective action you would like taken
Unless the credit reporting agency deletes the disputed information upon receipt of your request, the agency is required to conduct a reinvestigation of the disputed items. In conducting its reinvestigation, the agency must:
- Send a notice of dispute to the party who furnished the information
- Within five days of receiving the notice, the furnisher must conduct its own reinvestigation of the accuracy and completeness of the disputed information
- The furnisher must report the results of its reinvestigation to the credit reporting agency and to all other credit reporting agencies in a timely manner
- The reporting agency must complete its reinvestigation within 30 days of receipt of your notice of dispute, unless a 15-day extension has been approved.
Credit reporting agencies must act in good faith in conducting the reinvestigation and must check with the original sources and other reliable sources of the disputed information.
Within five days of completing its investigation, the credit reporting agency must send you:
- Written notice of the completion of the reinvestigation
- A copy of the corrected credit report
- Notice of the right to request a copy of the reinvestigation report, including the address and phone number of the furnisher
You can have a statement of dispute included in your credit file. If the CRA has modified your credit file and you still believe that the information is in error, you may file another notice of dispute and the CRA must conduct another reinvestigation.
If the credit reporting agency deleted or corrected the error satisfactorily, continue to monitor you statements and credit report periodically. You don't want this information to reappear at a later date.
Another complaint can be made if you continue to have problems, or you can consult a consumer law attorney.
Question For Your Attorney
- I've tried to contact my creditors to fix an issue that is on my credit report, but I've been getting the runaround (ex. no one returns my calls, letters, or if I reach someone they say there is no one who can handle that problem). What should I do?
- I got a response from the credit report agency after I disputed an item, but I'm not sure what it means?
- What if the issue isn't resolved? What can I do? Can I bring a lawsuit?