August 2, 2018
August 2, 2018
When you’re looking to buy a house, you’re probably also shopping for a mortgage so you can pay for the house. One of the keys to a great mortgage is a great credit score because it will help you get the lowest mortgage interest rate possible. And one of the keys to a great credit score is an accurate credit report.
Your credit report contains the details about your credit history and is compiled by one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion), which collect information from a variety of sources. Unfortunately, a large number of sources of information, together with a large number of individuals whose credit history is being monitored, means that errors inevitably occur.
Any institution with which you have a credit account, such as a bank, auto loan company or mortgage provider, regularly updates the credit reporting agencies as to whether you’re repaying your debts. But errors can occur when a credit bureau matches a reported update to the wrong record, such as one belonging to a person with the same or similar name. For example, a late payment by Michael A. Smith might end up on the record of Michael B. Smith or Michael A. Smith, Jr. Similar Social Security numbers can result in the same type of error. Reports from debt collectors are especially prone to be misreported, possibly because debt collectors often have minimal information about the overdue debts they’re reporting on. Errors can also occur as a result of mistakes on applications you fill out, so be sure to fill out any forms related to credit accurately and neatly.
– A credit card or loan account that isn’t yours (especially accounts belonging to someone with a name similar to yours, or those resulting from identity theft).
– Paid accounts that are listed as unpaid.
– A closed account that is listed as open.
– An account that was closed by you but is listed as closed by the issuer/institution.
– A late payment that was made more than seven years ago.
– Incorrect personal information, such as errors in your name, current or previous addresses or phone numbers, and your employment history.
Under federal law, you can dispute incorrect information on your credit report for free. Errors can be reported directly to each credit bureau or to the institution that provided the data. For credit bureaus, you can report the error online or by mail using the following contact information:
P.O. Box 9701
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Documents supporting your dispute can be submitted online or by mail, but it is usually easier to submit a claim online since your information is more readily accessible. You will need to provide information such as your full name, Social Security number, date of birth, current address, addresses where you lived during the previous two years, and email address. Of course, you will also need to provide information regarding the error you are disputing.
If the error you are disputing is related to a specific account, you can dispute the information with the institution that furnished the data to the credit bureau. For example, if your credit report incorrectly states that a bank closed your credit card account when you did, you could contact the bank directly. This may speed up the correction process since you are cutting out the middleman, i.e., the credit bureau.
The FTC has a sample letter you can use to dispute errors on your credit report at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0384-sample-letter-disputing-errors-your-credit-report.
Allow 30 to 45 days for your dispute to be investigated, although simple errors can be corrected in as little as two weeks. Be sure to keep thorough records, including copies of all of your communications and supporting documents.
Note that if you have been erroneously reported as deceased, you will need to contact the credit bureaus by mail at the addresses listed above.