Don't be a victim of credit report errors! You need to go right to the source - all three credit reports. Yes, all three reports! You must get reports from all three major credit bureaus. They are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Do not get the free versions. Pay for them and get your FICO credit score at the same time. Here is why...
Your credit report contains all your financial history on which your credit score is based including errors and mistakes. If you can correct or update the information in your credit reports, your credit scores will change to reflect the new data. Getting and checking all your credit reports for errors is one of the best things you can do to repair your entire credit history and boost your average score. You may find errors in one report that are not in the others which is why all three reports are necessary.
Here is how to deal with errors in your credit reports to give your credit scores a boost:
First of all you should dispute errors in your credit reports.
Contact each of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, and get copies of your credit reports and credit scores. This will cost a few dollars but you need to do it. Carefully read over the reports and note any errors.
If you find mistakes, contact the credit bureaus, in writing. Point out the mistakes and ask that those mistakes be removed or investigated.
This is known as a 'dispute letter' and the bureaus must accept them. All credit bureaus are required, by law, to investigate your dispute within thirty days of receiving your letter. Send your letter "Return Receipt Requested" via the U.S. Postal Service. This will cost you about .00 but it's well worth it. The "Return Receipt" will tell you the date the letter was received at the credit burea. It is important to keep copies of everything, including your letter and your postal receipt to establish a paper trial.
In your letter, be polite. You should not be threatening or abusive in your letter. Calmly and clearly state the problem and request an investigation.
Point out that you understand the bureau is required to investigate your claim within thirty days and note that you will follow up. Be pro-active. Make sure you follow up with the issues you raised in your letter. Just because the agency investigates does not always mean that your credit report will end up mistake-free or that they will even inform you.
In this Internet society, most credit bureaus now make it easy for you to request corrections to your credit report on-line and many have information on their web sites that tells you exactly how mistakes must be handled to be effectively removed. It is important that you follow this information exactly so that the inaccuracies on your credit report are removed promptly and your credit score is updated as soon as possible.
By the way, don't assume that correcting information in just one of the reports will be automatically fixed in the others. You need to handle each bureau individually. If all three have the same error, contact all three to get it corrected because you never know which credit report will be accessed by a lender. Not all lenders use all three bureaus for credit information.
You are also permitted, by law, to add a note to your credit report if there is a problem you can't resolve.
Sometimes, there are sensible reasons why you did not pay a bill. For example, if a contractor refused to finish a job or did a poor job, then you may have refused payment, but the non-payment may still count against you on your credit report. You can have a note added that explains the situation.
Perhaps you are the victim of some other unusual circumstances showing up on your credit report that have affected your credit rating - such as a case of identity theft. Again, you can ask that a note be attached to your credit report to explain the problem and what you are doing about it.
When adding these notes, be very brief and to the point. Don't write a 5 page letter! Lenders, if they wish, may ask you for more detail during the credit application process.
Some creditors will pay attention to such notes and some will not, but it is a better option than nothing at all. Such notes will not affect your FICO score but will affect your credit history. More importantly, it leaves a paper trail of the problem that lenders can consider if they choose.
Fixing credit report mistakes is only a first step towards boosting your FICO score but it is a vital step that you should take starting today.