Few mishaps cause more headaches than credit reporting errors. They are difficult to fix and can adversely affect one’s credit report for years. However, consumers have some ways to correct credit report errors.
The best defense against credit report errors is for a consumer to get a credit report every year or two and check it for errors. These are available from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Every person can now get a free copy of his or her credit report once a year.
The consumer should look at the credit report and check every account name and number with those on her credit cards. If they do not match, she should contact the credit card company and see if they have the correct information. If they do not, she can correct the problem through the credit card company, and the changes should be reflected when the company next updates with the reporting agencies. If it isn’t the company's error, the consumer must contact the reporting agencies and send them a copy of a recent statement with the correct information so they can have it updated.
The consumer should look on the credit report for accounts he no longer uses or thinks he closed, and should make sure these accounts are closed. He will probably have to contact the credit card company to do this, but he needs to do so to make certain no charges are applied to these accounts. He may have to request a letter of closure from the company and send copies to the reporting agencies to have the information updated.
The above mistakes are relatively simple to fix. The ones that cause the problems are those that include mistakes in balance amounts, accounts the consumer did not open and other similar problems. These may require legal assistance to resolve.
If a balance on a credit report is incorrect, or the account reflects delinquent payments when there were none, the consumer should contact the company issuing the credit card. she should ask when payments were late, and should have copies of statements on hand showing that payments were regularly received and on-time. She should then request the company send a letter to the reporting agencies to have the bad information removed. She can also send a copy of a statement showing the current balance to the reporting agencies.
Sometimes, someone with the same name will have an account listed on a consumer’s report. In this case, the consumer should immediately call the credit card company and ask to have this information removed, and should ask them to send him and the reporting agencies a letter confirming all personal information and Social Security numbers, and to ask the reporting agencies to update their files accordingly. Even if the account is one the consumer did not open, he should try to resolve the problem with the credit card company and reporting agencies first.
Consumers should make an effort to solve credit report problems at a personal level first, but should save all paperwork and communications received from credit card companies or reporting agencies. A consumer should have dates on everything she sends or receives from the companies, and copies, as well. The consumer should also make certain she never makes any kind of threat, whether implied or overt. She can say she will consult an attorney or report a company to the Federal Trade Commission, but beyond that, she should not make any kind of statements about what actions she will take if the problem is not resolved. People have been arrested for this kind of behavior.
For questions concerning fraud or identity theft, a consumer should immediately consult an attorney for advice. These are issues that most consumers cannot deal with independently. For any kind of favorable outcome, an attorney will probably need to be consulted. Keeping an eye on his credit report is the best way for a consumer to guard against errors, and to resolve them before they become problematic. However, if a consumer feels he is over his head with a situation, he should always consult an attorney.