Why You Need to Check Your Credit Report Regularly
You might think you have good credit—and you could be right. But if you aren’t checking your credit report regularly, you might not know if there is something on your credit report dragging your score down.
Some studies estimate that up to 80% of all credit reports contain errors. They could be as simple as a wrong address or a misspelled name, but they could also be as serious as an account that isn’t yours, or a medical debt in collections that you weren’t aware of. Here’s how to make sure your credit report is accurate, and your credit score reflects your true creditworthiness.
1 – Order copies of your credit report. This means getting copies from all three major bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. You can do this easily, and for free, from annualcreditreport.com at least once a year. The federal government mandates that all consumers be given free access to their credit report once each year, and also in the event of things like identity theft, being turned down for a line of credit, or certain other things. If you aren’t sure if you qualify, call up the credit bureau and ask.
2 – Look over your report carefully. Your credit report might be several pages long, and in small print. It may be boring reading, but it’s important to really examine the whole thing. Are names and addresses accurate? Do you recognize all the accounts listed? Look for mortgages, credit card accounts, school loans, medical debt, utilities, and any other types of loans you have. If there are any strange or unrecognized things on your report, make a note of them. You’ll need to follow up.
3 – Call the credit bureau to let them know of the mistake. Eventhough you’ll also want to do this in writing, calling is a great first step if you’ve found a mistake. Get the names of everyone you speak to, and log all the information shared in the call, including the date and time of the call. Be sure to ask for the mailing address where you should send your inquiries and documentation. When you get off the phone, write to the credit bureau and let them know about the mistake. It’s important to have the complaint in writing. Fax or mail the letter, and do this for all three credit bureaus if the mistake was on all of the reports. If it was only on one or two, you only need to do it for those bureaus.
4 – Contact the creditor that provided the wrong information. This is only possible if you know the details for the company or person who caused the faulty information to be placed on your report. If you know where the mistake originated, then calling and/or writing to that creditor is a smart move, to speed up the process.
5 – Follow up. Within 30 days, call the credit bureau again to check the status of your report. Keep following up until the mistakes are corrected. Once this happens, your credit score should improve.
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