Since credit information is collected from a variety of sources, errors do occur.
It is important to check your credit reports periodically and address errors immediately. Serious errors could affect your credit rating and consequently your ability to obtain a loan, insurance or even a job.
Information About You
- Look for misspellings of your name or errors in your birthdate or Social Security number.
- Make sure the same loan is not listed more than once.
- Look for omissions, such as the fact that you paid off a delinquent account or resolved a legal matter.
- Make sure accounts that are closed are actually listed as closed.
- Information that is on the report that is not about you.
- Look for "mixed" information, such as information about Robert Johnson, Sr. on the report for Robert Johnson, Jr.
- Information about you that is very old and should be removed.
- Most negative information, such as collections actions, late payments, etc. should be automatically removed after seven years. Bankruptcy filings should be removed after ten years.
- Look for old addresses, employers or a previous spouse's information.
If you find errors on your report, you can dispute them at no cost. Details on how to dispute an error are included with your credit report, but basically you should notify in writing the consumer credit reporting company (Experian, Equifax or TransUnion), as well as the person or company who provided the information of the error. Be as detailed as possible, providing copies of documents as needed. Send your letters certified mail, return receipt requested and keep a copy for your records.
The consumer credit reporting company must investigate your allegations within 30 days and will notify you of the result. More information on this dispute process, as well as a sample dispute letter, is available through the FTC.