According to a recent study by the FTC, 1 in 4 Americans have a mistake in their credit report. And a mistake in your credit report can hurt you badly.
Whether by identity theft or simple reporting error, it’s way to easy in this day and age for debts to get on your credit even if you don’t actually owe them.
So what can you do?
First, make sure you monitor your credit closely. You are entitled to a free credit report each year from each of the three major reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). That means you could be checking on your credit once every four months for FREE.
By keeping careful tabs on your credit, you can catch identity theft or mistaken debt early and deal with it quickly before you miss any opportunities due to bad credit.
Next, dispute any inaccuracies. Bear in mind that you can’t get accurate information removed (unless it’s old). The reporting agencies have 30 days to investigate after you file a dispute.
The FTC has more:
When the investigation is complete, the credit reporting company must give you the results in writing and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. This free report does not count as your annual free report. If an item is changed or deleted, the credit reporting company cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that it is accurate and complete. The credit reporting company also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider.
If you ask, the credit reporting company must send notices of any corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. You can have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.
If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the credit reporting company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You also can ask the credit reporting company to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past. You can expect to pay a fee for this service.