How to Fix Credit Report Errors
December 23, 2022 by Daniel Azzoli
Do you have any idea of what’s on your credit report, or why it’s important? If not, it’s time you bone up! Essentially, your credit report summarizes your credit-related actions. The institutions that you’ve borrowed money from, like lenders and banks, will report your payments (or missed payments) as well as your balances on the accounts you have with them to credit bureaus like TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. These agencies will take all the information they receive and put together your credit report. From there, they’re able to calculate your credit score.
Why is your credit score important? Well, your credit score can often be one of the most important factors in more than one way when it comes to your borrowing activity. For starters, it can be a big determining factor when it comes to whether your application is going to be approved or not in the first place. Secondly, even if you’re approved, it may play a part in dictating what the rates of your loan will be.
With the importance of your credit report in mind, you can imagine how important it is for the information on it to be accurate. So, we’re going to go over how to recognize errors on your report, how to fix credit report errors, and more.
Who Should be the One to Find Errors on a Credit Report?
Let’s be clear, looking for credit report errors isn’t going to be a part of anybody’s idea of a fun afternoon. While they’re mistakes, the implications and impact of these mistakes can have a very real effect.
And remember, if there’s some sort of clerical error that’s led to inaccurate information showing up on your credit report, and this information has a negative impact on your credit report, it’s probably not your mistake in the first place. Common errors on credit reports like software glitches and clerical mistakes are likely the mistakes of either the financial institution reporting the information, or the credit bureau itself. Having said that, you’re still the one who suffers. Ultimately, it’s your job to review your credit report, find the error(s) causing the inaccurate reporting, and notify the relevant parties to fix the problem.
How Can I Recognize these 3 Common Errors on Credit Reports?
While there are all sorts of credit report errors out there, there are three that will likely pop up more frequently than others. Let’s take a look at each one so you have a better idea of what to look for when scanning your report.
1. Identity Errors
These types of errors come up when your personal identification information isn’t reported accurately. This could include things like your address, your phone number, your social security number, and even your name.
This type of error can also involve another person’s credit-related activity being assigned to you because they have a similar name, some sort of clerical error was made, or for certain other reasons.
2. Reporting Errors
Reporting errors are made when a credit account appears on your credit report as being in delinquency, or when payments are shown to be late when they were actually made on time. It can also involve closed accounts showing up as open accounts. When looking for credit report errors, be sure to go through dates of all your payments and make sure these are accurate. You should also check the open/closed dates of all your credit accounts.
3. Data Errors
Data errors happen when a single credit account shows up more than once on a credit report, sometimes under different names, or when the balances on various accounts aren’t correct. Generally, these are often from human error that occurs when data is being imported.
What Can I do About Credit Report Errors?
If you do end up finding any common credit report errors, the first thing you should do would be to dispute it. Start by getting in contact with the creditor (like the bank or lender) that gave this inaccurate information to the credit bureau, and the credit bureau itself. For example, if you’re going through a credit report provided by Experian and you notice that a loan you’ve taken out with a bank is showing a bigger balance than it should, you should immediately reach out to the bank and Experian.
There’s still a bit more work for you to do when it comes to disputing errors on your credit report. If you need to dispute something with a credit bureau, you can do so online, over the phone, or by mail. Go on the website of whatever bureau you’re trying to reach and look for a contact page, which should have the information for you to get in touch with them through whatever means is best for you.
What do I need to Know about How to Dispute Credit Report Errors?
Like we’ve said, it can be frustrating to discover an error in your credit report, but unfortunately, it’s on you to start the process of correcting the mistake. Once you’ve reached out to the appropriate credit bureau and explained the situation to them, they’ll have their own specific process for sorting through this issue.
Typically, once you’ve formally submitted your dispute, the credit bureau will then contact your creditor to verify that the information you’ve presented them with is accurate. At this point, the creditor will need to look into their records and respond within a specific timeframe. They will then send the necessary information to the credit bureau and make any necessary changes.
If your creditor doesn’t get back to the credit bureau in time, the bureau may decide to make changes based on the dispute you’ve submitted.
What do I do if my Dispute is Rejected?
If you’ve noticed errors on your credit report, filed a dispute with a credit bureau, and had the requested changes denied, there still may be options for you to get this issue resolved. In some cases, the initial investigation done by a credit bureau or creditor may just look at fairly basic information. If the dispute that you’ve submitted ends up getting rejected, you can still pursue this claim by sending in more detailed information. This can include things like:
- Statements or relevant bills
- A copy of a canceled check
- Identity theft-related documents, like a police report
- Relevant communication that you’ve previously had with your creditor
Why is it Important to Check my Credit Report Regularly?
Like we’ve mentioned, the main reason to regularly look for credit report errors is that your credit score may be taking negative hits without you even realizing it.
If you don’t take the time to check in on the health of your credit, you may find out that your score is lower than you thought at the most inopportune times, like when you’re trying to make a major purchase that requires you to apply for a personal loan. At this stage, you may not get approved for a loan at the rates you were hoping for, or your application may be denied altogether!
By checking in on your credit report regularly, you may be able to spot any errors doing damage to your credit score before it’s too late. You can get a copy of your credit report once a year for free from each of the major credit bureaus, so this means you can check your report once every four months for free. Take advantage of this!
Dispute Credit Report Errors Immediately
Errors on your credit report can be an inconvenience we can all do without. For starters, you’ll need to fix errors that weren’t yours in the first place. On top of that, what can start as a small error can turn into something much more significant over time if left unchecked.
The key thing to remember here is that the earlier you spot these credit report errors, the better. You’ll want to avoid any serious damage being done to your credit score, so it’s best to dispute them as soon as possible. Make sure to take advantage of the free copies of your credit report that you can get every year and stay consistently diligent when it comes to checking your report!