We all know that having a good credit score is essential to leading a financially healthy life. Your credit score can affect your ability to rent an apartment, buy a house, and even get a job that you are otherwise qualified for.
A woman from Oregon was recently awarded $18.6 million from Equifax because of errors on her credit report (check out the full story here). Also, a recent report by the Federal Trade Commission stated that one in five consumers has an error in a credit report issued by a major agency.
With news like this popping up all over the place, it is more important than ever that you understand your credit report, check it regularly for mistakes, and report any errors immediately. Here is some basic information and tips regarding your credit report and errors.
- The first thing you can do to protect yourself again credit reporting errors is to request copies of your credit report from each of the three main credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You can do this by:
- Visiting the website at AnnualCreditReport.com
- Calling toll free at 877-322-8228
- Sending a written request to:
- It is recommended that consumers check each of their three credit reports once a year. Keep in mind that you do not need to request them all at once. In fact, a preferred strategy is to stagger your requests from each agency every four months so you can constantly review your report for errors and mistakes.
- Beware of websites or ads claiming to offer a free report. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only website supported by the Federal Government for free annual credit reports.
- If you do find an error on your credit report, contact the agency with the incorrect information immediately. The agency has 30 days to review your claim.
- If the consumer disagrees with the outcome of the investigation, you can send a written dispute. Download ACCC’s sample credit report dispute letter here for help disputing an error.
- The Oregon woman mentioned above had a mixed credit file, meaning her credit file was mixed with that of another woman by the same name (who happened to have bad credit). While this is very rare, if you have a common name it could be a concern and an issue like this can be very difficult to get correct.
For more information on what a credit score is, how to interpret your credit report, and how to spot errors, download ACCC’s Understanding Credit Reports handout here.
Check out Albie’s tips for how to improve your credit score here.
Have you reported an error on your credit report before?