According to a 2012 study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the three largest nationwide consumer reporting agencies (NCRAs) received approximately 8 million contacts from consumers in 2011 to initiate disputes about the accuracy of items on their credit files. While Congress passed a law requiring NCRAs to make credit reports free to consumers once a year, not everyone takes advantage or knows what errors to look for. Some of these inaccuracies are harmless, but others can hurt your chances at securing a loan.
Review Your Credit Report
Start by printing out your credit report and highlighting items that are incorrect or suspicious. Take notes, as it’ll make the disputing process much easier. Below are a few of the inaccuracies to look out for:
- Incorrect personal information – Name, address, date of birth and social security are among the most common.
- Negative items – These are in reference to items such as a Chapter 13 bankruptcy or unpaid tax liens that should not be on your credit report because of the statute of limitations.
- Inaccurate report of account – If you paid a collection, but the report still shows a balance, take note.
- Mixed/split credit files – If you share the same name with someone, such as a relative, there’s a chance your credit reports may have been mixed.
- Duplicate items – Look out for multiple collections for the same debt.
- Fraud or identity theft information – If there are accounts or collections you don’t know about, highlight them.
Once all the inaccuracies are highlighted, write to the NCRA and ask them to correct or delete the information. It’s recommended you mail your letters certified or with return receipts. You can find sample dispute letters on page 113 of Credit.org’s ebook, Consumer Guide to Good Credit. You can also dispute certain items online at Annual Credit Report.
Call (312) 313-1613 or contact us online to speak with one of our Chicago consumer lawyers.