Errors on credit reports can cost consumers money. “Check your credit report regularly and address any incorrect information promptly,” cautions Laura Creamer, a financial education specialist for CredAbility in Atlanta. “While many errors are common and easily corrected, others can be a sign that you have been a victim of identity theft and should be addressed quickly.”
According to Creamer, errors most often occur in:
- Personal Information –Carefully check spelling of names, addresses on file where you have lived, and Social Security numbers.
- Incorrect balances–Lenders use these balances, along with your available credit, to determine how good a candidate you are for future credit, so correcting inaccuracies is important.
- Late payment –If your credit report shows a late payment that was actually made on time or an unpaid bill that you have paid, provide proof of payment to the credit bureau.
- Accounts that aren’t yours–Errors sometimes occur when a family member, former spouse or someone with a similar name or address opens a credit account. In other cases, there may be fraudulent activity where someone has deliberately opened an account in your name. Make sure you recognize all of the accounts as valid.
- Inaccurate account information–A good mix of credit types and a record of paying on time will have a positive impact on your credit score. Be sure that the information reported on your account is correct, such as length of time the account has been open, the type of account (usually revolving or installment), credit limits and payment history.
Order Your Report
Every consumer in the U.S. may order a free credit report every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
AnnualCreditReport.com is the official site to help consumers to obtain their free credit report. To ensure that you are visiting the legitimate site, type https://www.annualcreditreport.com directly into the address bar on your browser or call 877-322-8228.
If you find an error on your credit report, you can file a dispute by going to the website of any credit bureau.