You should request a copy of your credit report once per year. You can request one copy of your credit report from each of the three main American credit bureaus for free. While these copies of your credit report will not provide you with your credit score, they will allow you to see credit report errors that appear in your file. This is the first line of defense to protect yourself from identity theft and allows you to maintain a clean credit report and good credit score. But, over half of all Americans find some type of credit report errors in their file, whether it be an old account that was closed over seven years ago and should be dropped from the credit report or large devastating incorrect information that could potentially sideline them from receiving new credit if they applied for it.
How To Spot Credit Report Errors
The step you should take to find credit report errors is to request your credit report. You can request your report directly from any one of the three credit reporting agencies for a fee. You can also obtain your report from the Fair Isaac Corporation who manages your FICO credit score, which is the most widely used score by lenders today. Over 90% of all lenders look at a borrower’s FICO credit score when making lending decisions. When you purchase your FICO score from the Fair Isaac Corporation, you will also receive one of your credit reports from the credit bureau of your choosing, either Equifax or TransUnion. You can also request your credit report for free from annualcreditreport.com which is the only official site for consumers to request their credit reports.
How To Dispute Credit Report Errors
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), both the credit bureau that maintains your credit report and the lender must correct any information in your credit report that is inaccurate or incomplete. The consumer must first contact the credit bureau in question where the incorrect information appears in the credit report in writing telling the bureau of the error and providing copies of supporting documentation. The credit bureau then contacts the borrower to ask if the negative mark on the credit report is valid. The lender has thirty days to respond to the request or, by law, the negative mark must be removed from your credit report file. If the lender says that the negative report is valid, then no further action is taken by the credit bureau. It is then up to the consumer and the lender to work out the details of the error and its removal from the credit bureaus files.
Disputing a credit report error will only be fixed if the negative mark was actually an error on your record. You cannot dispute a negative report just for the sake of wanting it removed if it is actually a valid report of wrongdoing. One of the biggest advantages that consumers have on their side is the thirty day timeframe. Many creditors are swamped and will not respond in a timely fashion. Constant contact with the credit bureau after the thirty days are over will help remove the item from your report which in turn will raise your credit score. It takes diligence in most cases, but the results can be well worth the time and effort.