Your credit report contains a variety of personal information about you and your credit history. Where you live, how promptly you pay your bills, and legal information such as whether or not you’ve ever had a judgment filed against you or filed for bankruptcy. But it is possible for incorrect information to be input into your credit report, which could hurt your ability to get a loan or even get a job. It’s important to know how to verify your credit report is correct and learn how to dispute errors on your credit report should there be any inaccuracies.
How to Find and Dispute Credit Report Errors
Why you should check for credit report errors
Errors on your credit report can prevent you from getting a personal or auto loan, a mortgage, a credit card, or even a job. If you’re seeking a loan for any reason, you’ll want to have a recent copy of your credit report in hand early enough to dispute any information that is incorrect.
If your identity has been stolen, you’ll want to be able to clear your name, so it’s a good idea to check your credit report at least once a year in order to be sure that all of the information contained within is accurate.
How to get a free credit report
Obtaining a free copy of your credit report is simple, and only takes a few minutes. You can go to AnnualCreditReport.com, fill out the form, and request your free credit report online. You can also get a copy of your credit report from companie sthat offer credit scores as well.Just be sure to read the fine print because credit scores are not always free and often require a credit card.
If you prefer not to complete the form online, you can call 877-322-8228 to request a hard copy, or locate the form online and print it out. Once you have form filled out, mail to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
PO Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
The law allows you one free credit report each year from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies.
You’ll be required to provide the following information in order to receive your report:
- Your full name (and any names you’ve used in the previous year including maiden name if recently married)
- Your current address (and recent addresses if you’ve moved during the previous two calendar years)
- Your Social Security number
- Your date of birth
You may also be required to answer some questions about your family in order to verify your identity.
How to report an inaccuracy, dispute the error and get it corrected
Should you find inaccurate information on your credit report, you’ll want to report it immediately. Make a copy of the credit report and type a letter describing the inaccuracy in full detail. Enclose any copies of documents supporting your position. Statements from companies showing the bill was paid, canceled checks, etc.
Send all of this to the consumer reporting agency. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself. Send your letter by certified mail with return receipt requested.
The credit reporting agency will be required to investigate all of the items in dispute within 30 days unless they consider your dispute frivolous. You’ll receive the results in writing when the investigation is complete. If a correction has been made to your credit report, you’ll also receive a new copy of the updated report.
Disputing errors on your credit report is important if you’re trying to rebuild your credit or to obtain a mortgage or other loan. Following these steps are important, too, and can help you maintain your good credit.