Common credit report errors and how to handle them

Submitted by Jen Jones on Mon, 05/18/2009 - 6:30pm

Common credit report errors and how to handle them

We see the commercials, hear the clever tag lines and are inundated with information about how to receive our credit report. So while a goofy guy singing catchy tunes about the perils of not knowing what's on your credit report certainly has its marketing merits, his chorus doesn't say much about what to do when you find something on your report that doesn't ring true.

First, make sure that your report is indeed your report, as many of the mistakes found involve the most basic information, such as your name, social security number or birth date.

Look for items that are older than seven years, which signifies that a report item must be removed. Watch for accounts that are reported more than once or any indication that you were part of a lawsuit. Some potential creditors may believe that to be a sign that you owe part of a settlement and therefore may not be a worthy credit risk.

There is a reason why your credit report will arrive with a dispute or investigation request form: you have to take care of reporting any errors. Credit reporting agencies are not at all proactive about investigating mistakes not brought to their attention; it's simply too tall a task. Therefore, your first step in taking care of any error is to complete and submit the form. It helps a great deal to include a personal letter identifying the particular issues in more detail.

Next, contact each of the organizations involved with an error notifying them of the mistake and asking for an official receipt that includes the account number in question, their reasoning for the dispute and all accompanying information related to the account. Be firm but professional in your letter and demonstrate that you will continue to follow up and pursue the matter indefinitely until it is solved.

Should your efforts return positive results and your report is corrected, don't just sit back and assume the best. It is not at all uncommon for deleted information to re-appear. Remember that somewhere amidst all the computer-generated data and automated financial reporting, there is a person in front of a computer. Order another report a few months after you believe the errors should have been corrected and if you do spot the same mistake, send yet another letter with the evidence you gathered the first time around, demonstrating their recognition of the error.

Remember that if a creditor believes their dispute is valid, the information will stay on your report. Continue your efforts of paper-based contact with the creditor to create a provable record of your persistence. Should the creditor come around and finally confirm the fault is theirs, you should forward that confirmation to the credit bureaus as soon as possible to ensure the mistake is removed.

Credit report errors can do some real damage if not taken care of quickly. Paperwork, forms and phone calls are all part of it, so be patient but persistent and always remember that it's your good name on that report. And remember, if you are in over your head in debt, bankruptcy is often the most efficient solution to rebuilding your credit. Talk with a bankruptcy attorney to find out how to take control of the debt collectors now. Serving North Carolina residents, contact the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt today for a free bankruptcy consultation.

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