A credit report error is an informational and/or quantified inaccuracy on a credit report which is a financial disclosure document containing information regarding creditors, credit inquiries, and credit history. Errors in credit reports can affect credit scores which are used by lenders to determine qualification for credit. Since FICO scores, credit ratings, and credit information is used to determine a significant amount of lending and other criteria it is in one’s financial interest to ensure the information on such a report is correct. This article will discuss repairing credit report errors in terms of 1) credit report error cause, 2) error type and 3) method for correcting the error.
TYPES OF CREDIT ERRORS:
Many people have credit errors on their credit reports be they minor or major mistakes. The flow of credit information from lender or financial institution to credit reporting agency can be interrupted and/or disrupted by no fault of the consumer who’s credit can be affected. For this reason, understanding the type of credit errors that may come up can be helpful both in preventing and resolving credit report errors.
As evident below, the types of errors on a credit report can vary and may include any one of the following. (consumerreports.org). Identifying the error type is important in the tracking down of, and amelioration of the disputed information. The types of credit errors may be anything from an incorrect address to a late payment that was paid off long ago.
* Unresolved credit charges
* Inaccurate late payment
* Wrong personal information
* False billing data
* Data entry errors
* Credit history mistakes
* Computer virus related error
CAUSES AND CREDIT ERROR REDUCTION:
The best way to correct an error on your credit report is to avoid the error altogether. There may be several sources of credit report errors, some may be unresolved reporting ambiguities, where as others may be related to identity theft that has unduly affected credit report information. Whatever the reason(s) for the error, the first step in correcting errors is 1) to limit the probability of the error occurring and then 2) identifying the error to be fixed. The following lists potential causes of credit report errors and solutions for such.
* Identity theft related events: Prevent security violations
* Ambiguous credit data: Review credit report
* Financial institution or creditor reporting mistakes: Utilize functional institutions
* Faulty utility provider credit information: Confirm utility provider data
* Inaccurate bankruptcy related information: Verify documentation
* Credit reporting agency miscalculation: Check credit report
The U.S. Consumer Sentinel Network, comprised of agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Trade Commission have reported a disturbing trend in identity theft complaints. Between the years 2000-2008 the network’s identity theft complaint count rose from 31,140-313,982. (ftc.gov) Thus, maintaining secure financial practices is a good preventative technique.
Avoiding financial reporting errors can be difficult in some cases as when your credit information is handled by other parties, it is subject to the ability of all those parties and machines capacity to relay credit information properly. Limiting the number of organizations that handle your money and credit information may help in addition to banking with reputable financial institutions.
Ultimately however, checking a credit report is the verification of credit information so that you can handle any mistakes in your credit report if they do exist. What’s more since there may be more than one credit reporting agency, there may have to be multiple credit report checks and an increase in the number of potential errors. For example, in the United States, three major credit reporting agencies exist; Experian, Equifax and TransUnion in the U.S.
HOW TO CORRECT CREDIT REPORT ERRORS:
Correction credit report errors may not always be as quick and easy as a phone call to the reporting agency. This could be because of the volume of customers, bureaucracy, and vagueness in the credit reporting law, systemic inefficiency etc. Thus, patience is a useful ingredient after requesting a credit report from one or all relevant credit reporting agencies. The following is a list of the three major U.S. credit reporting agencies with their phone contact information as reported by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). However, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, credit reports should be requested through http://www.annualcreditreport.com
U.S. Credit reporting agencies: (ftc.gov)
* Experian: 1-888-397-3742, http://www.experian.com
* TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800, http://www.transunion.com
* Equifax: 1-800-685-1111, http://www.equifax.com
The following credit report correction method is gathered from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumerreports.org. Both these organizations advocate for consumers, correction of credit report errors being one of those things.
Example credit dispute process: (ftc.gov and consumereports.org)
i) Identify credit error(s)
ii) Locate evidence supporting dispute ex. Receipts, statements etc.
iii) Gather all dispute documents including dispute letter and make copies
iv) Mail via certified mail, copies of all relevant credit error disputes
v) Follow up and file a complaint with one or more members of the Consumer Sentinal network if necessary
Additional tips to consider when identifying and/or disputing credit errors involving becoming aware of the process, parties involved, how to communicate with those organizations, and available legal options, reporting agency and creditor obligations, and consumer rights. Below are a few tips that may help with fixing a mistake on your credit report.
* Differentiate disputable from non-disputable errors
* Utilize defensible dispute methods
* Report errors to all parties involved
* Properly document and complete error reporting information
* Be aware of different available options including credit statements, and non-disclosure rights.