It’s important to monitor your credit reports at least yearly. That way, you’ll regularly be able to spot and handle any mistake that occurs on your credit report that could adversely affect you.
Using this process will help you find errors on your credit report and correct them:
1. Go through the report with a fine-tooth comb. When you receive a copy of your credit report, sit down and take the time reviewing it. Consider it an important part of your financial goals to find out what your creditors are “saying” about your financial life.
2. Look at each item. Carefully check each entry to spot any listings that don’t look familiar. If you don’t remember an item, make a note out in the margin, like “What’s this?” or “I didn’t apply for this loan.”
3. Notice names of companies and financial institutions. Are there any you haven’t heard of? If so, put an “X” by them so you can look up the names on the internet. An unfamiliar name may well be the name of a company that is known by various names.
* Consult your own financial records. If the company still sounds unfamiliar, pull your own financial records for the year in question. Perhaps you’ll see some record of what you did that will refresh your memory regarding that part of your report.
4. Call the credit bureau where the report originated. If you can’t resolve or figure out a particular listing on your report, contact the bureau who issued the report. Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union each offer customer service and might be able to assist you.
5. Contact the company that you believe has made false claims against you. Try to resolve the situation with the entity directly and insist they make the proper changes to the credit bureau to correct your information.
6. Dispute the claim. In the event you are unsuccessful in resolving a credit issue with a creditor, you can formally dispute the claim. You do this by phoning the credit bureau that produced the report. You can also contact the credit bureau online to fight the claim there. State you want to dispute the claim. You’ll likely have to explain why.
7. Place a fraud alert on your credit report. If your identity was stolen or any of your banking accounts or credit cards were inappropriately used by others, you should contact the agency where you received your credit report and follow their steps to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
* This way, the agency will monitor your account extra closely to ensure your privacy and security and might even inform you of any action as it occurs on your account under your name.
8. Do your homework. Learn more about credit reporting from the Federal Trade Commission’s website at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/credit.shtm.
Your credit report should be an accurate reflection of your financial life. Go through your credit report and examine each entry carefully. Take notes of entities issuing information about you and then peruse your own financial records to support any claims you may use as you go through this process.
Stay on top of your credit reports so you can correct errors right away. Protect your credit and identity by obtaining your credit report at least yearly and following up on questionable data.