Your credit score will play a tremendous role throughout your adult life. From determining how much you’ll pay on loans to deciding if you’ll be approved for an apartment, your credit comes into play. Whether you have a stellar score or life threw you some financial curveballs, it’s always in your best interest to monitor and improve your credit score.
One of the simplest ways to better your credit is by correcting any errors on your report. While the process will require a little work on your end, the damage could negatively affect your score long-term if left unchecked.
Learn how to obtain a free copy of your credit report and the steps to correct any errors in the following guide.
Obtain a Free Copy of Your Credit Report
Each year, the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) allow you to download a copy of your credit report at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Unlike many apps and websites that display your credit score and notes about your accounts, this is a full copy of your credit report. It will show all your open and closed accounts, payment history, amounts outstanding, etc.
You have the option to download all three credit reports at once for the year, or a better strategy is the break them up. For example, to better monitor your credit reports throughout the year, you can download a different report every four months (e.g., Experian in March, Equifax in July, TransUnion in November).
NOTE: Due to the increase in reporting errors at the start of the pandemic, www.AnnualCreditReport.com now allows you to download your report weekly at no cost. It’s unclear when this change will revert back to the once-per-year format.
Reviewing Your Credit Report
When reviewing your credit report, there are two things you’re looking for: errors and fraud.
While it might seem unlikely, errors do occur. For example, many lenders incorrectly reported information pertaining to mortgage forbearances during the beginning of the pandemic. New loans with the wrong payment dates listed often show up as late payments. Glance through your payment histories and any derogatory remarks on your report to ensure they are correct.
Then, glance through all your open and closed accounts, along with recent credit inquiries. Make sure all the accounts listed are yours and not fraudulent.
How to Dispute Errors
If you notice errors on your report, print out a copy of your credit report and go line by line and highlight all errors with each credit reporting company. Some errors may include:
- Accounts you did not apply for or do not recognize (indicating a possibility of identity theft).
- Late payments you believe were made on time.
- Inaccurate personal information (wrong address, phone number, etc.).
- The same debts are listed multiple times.
- Incorrect account balances.
- Incorrect credit limits reported.
- Closed accounts are stated as open accounts.
If the same error appears on multiple credit reports (e.g., Equifax and TransUnion), you must dispute it with both credit bureaus.
To dispute an error, each credit bureau has its own process. The quickest way to file a dispute is through the designated pages on their websites. For your convenience, links are provided below. You may also call the credit bureaus directly.
Disputes Website: https://www.experian.com/disputes/
Disputes Website: https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-dispute/
Disputes Website: https://www.transunion.com/credit-disputes/dispute-your-credit
When making a dispute to your credit report, always store copies of the information in a safe place for reference.
We’re Here to Help!
One of the biggest reasons to monitor your credit is to lower the amount you will pay on loans and with credit cards. Errors do occur, and fraud continues to rise every year. If you believe you were a victim of fraud or have questions about your credit report, we’re ready to help.
Please stop by any of our convenient branch locations or call (949) 588-9400 to speak with a team member.
Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact the Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.
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