You may not get your credit report in the mail each month, so you may not think about it frequently, but it is important that you keep an eye on it. If your credit report has bad marks on it, it will affect your chances of securing a loan or even getting a credit card. In fact, if you plan on renting an apartment or home in the near future, a bad credit history could impact the decision making. Depending on what field of business you plan to work in, it could also hinder your efforts at locating solid employment. Mistakes are all too common credit reports, so you need to stay on top of yours. If you're new to having credit, here's what you need to know about checking and reporting errors:
1. Get Your Annual Free Copy of Your Credit History.
By law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report from all three credit-reporting organizations each year. You can request these through the individual companies or by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com, where you can input your personal information and receive your free report from all three – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
2. Inspect Your Reports for Errors.
Your credit report includes details on credit cards, foreclosures, collections, bank accounts, loans, etc. It also has a tally of the companies who have previously accessed your credit history. Keep in mind that as you go through your credit reports that errors may be on all three or they may only be on one of the three. Some of the most noticeable errors include outdated or incorrect personal information, payment history and credit limits. For example, you may have a credit limit that is higher than what is listed or your payments were indicated as late when they've been on time every month. You could also locate loans, credit cards, etc. that you never actually applied for.
3. Contact the Creditor of the Error.
If any errors are located on your report, contact the creditor that reported the misguided information to the credit reporting agency. You can call or write them a letter. If you need to send any supporting documents to prove your story, make sure that you send copies and not the originals, as you may need them again later. Don't forget to also make a copy of your written correspondence for future use. If it is determined that the error is indeed incorrect, then the creditor is required to inform the credit reporting agency to delete or update the inaccurate information.
4. Get in Touch with the Credit Reporting Agencies.
If your creditor will not fix the error, you will need to contact Equifax or whatever agency shows the error on your credit report. You will dispute the charges by phone or letter. You can even dispute your report online at any of the three agencies. You will need to send in supporting material that shows what the error is, what your dispute is and what the adjustment is. Make sure to save copies of everything.
If, for some reason, you've already gotten yourself into trouble with your credit, it's not too late to repair it. It never is. Contact a credit repair company in your local area to discuss your situation and determine what the best options are for restoring your credit.