You may be surprised at how often credit reports contain errors. Your credit report can have a significant impact on your life. Mistakes on your credit report can prevent you from getting a mortgage, a car loan, a credit card, or financial assistance when you need it. Some types of credit report errors are seen more frequently than others.
If you have a better understanding of what these common credit report mistakes are, you will have a better idea of what to look for when you are reviewing your own credit report for inconsistencies and mistakes. Here are three of the most common types of credit report errors and the steps you should take to address them.
1. Incorrect Accounts
One of the top mistakes seen on credit reports is incorrect accounts. When you review your credit report, it is important to take a look at the number of accounts the report shows you have opened. If you notice that a loan has been taken out in your name or a retail line of credit has been opened without your consent, it could be a sign that you have been a victim of identity theft. Or, it could mean that the credit bureaus have mistakenly mixed up your information (and your accounts) with someone else’s. This could be the result of you having a similar Social Security Number, name, or date of birth to the other person. Or, it could be the result of a data-entry error. No matter what the cause, it’s important to fix errors on your credit report.
Common warning signs that someone else’s information may be showing on your report, or that you are a victim of identity theft, is the presence of an incorrect name, address, Social Security number, or other personal information on your credit report. When this happens, it could have a devastating impact on your credit score and even your credit utilization ratio.
Unfamiliar accounts could be an indication that you have been a victim of identity theft. If this happens, it is essential to reach out to an identity theft lawyer as soon as possible for help filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a report with the police.
2. Account Reporting Mistakes
Another common credit report bureau mistake is account reporting errors. Some of the most common types of account reporting errors our firm has helped resolve include:
- Inaccurate missed payment dates
- Incorrect dates of late payments
- Inaccurate balances on the account
- Inaccurate dates the account was opened or closed
- Consumers being listed as primary account holders as opposed to authorized users
- Incorrect credit limits
- Discharged debts appearing on the report
- Erroneous bankruptcy filings
- Accounts that have been delinquent for seven years or longer appearing on the report
- Accounts that have been closed but aren’t reported as such
In the worst conditions, credit report errors like these could result in your being denied credit, including for a mortgage or a credit card. These errors could also have a significant impact on your credit score. For this reason, it is essential that you get help clearing up any credit report mistakes so you can protect your financial future.
3. Inaccurate Personal Information
Credit reporting agencies will often make mistakes when documenting consumers’ personal information. Although clerical mistakes like these may be seemingly innocuous, such an error can have a serious impact on your life.
For example, if you were mistaken for someone who was convicted of a violent felony, this could have a dramatic impact on your life when you apply for a job or otherwise need to pass a background check or credit check. Some of the more common personal information or identity mistakes found on credit reports include:
- Incorrect addresses
- Incorrect names
- The wrong middle initial or middle name
- Incorrect spelling of your name
- Incorrect phone number
- Mistakenly reporting you as deceased
- Mistakenly reporting you as being on the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Compliance List of Specially Designated Nationals, referred to as the terrorist watch list, the OFAC List, or the OFAC/SDN List.
You can take steps to ensure your personal information is accurate and valid by reporting basic personal facts to the credit reporting bureaus. This might include your full name, your phone number, your address, a new last name, copies of your divorce decree, and other documentation that can show that joint accounts may have been closed with an ex-spouse.
What to Do When You Discover a Credit Report Error
Credit reports and scores can have a dramatic impact on a person’s life. When you are counting on opening up a new line of credit, being approved for a mortgage or auto loan, or otherwise obtaining a financial partnership that could change your life, inaccuracies in your credit report could cost you.
For this reason, it is essential that you take steps to address these mistakes so you can ensure your credit report accurately reflects your creditworthiness. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), credit reporting agencies have an obligation to correct inaccurate information on your credit report. When they fail to do so, they could be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
Once you discover credit report errors, it is important to take steps to address them. Here’s where you can start:
- Talk with a lawyer who can help you reach out to the credit reporting agencies to inform them of the mistakes on your credit report
- Request free copies of your credit report from all three major credit bureaus, including TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. You can obtain your free report at annualcreditreport.com.
- Go through your credit report in detail to discover and document errors on your credit report
- Keep copies of your original credit report and send copies to creditors and lenders
- Credit reporting agencies must respond to your dispute within 30 days, so you can follow up and determine what action they have taken to correct the mistakes on your credit report
Should You Contact the Creditor?
Many people assume that reaching out to the creditor or lender in question to discuss inaccurate information is the right way to fix the mistake. However, since the credit reporting agencies are responsible for maintaining your credit report, it is through these bureaus that you must address your concerns.
The credit report lawyers at Berger Montague understand how credit bureaus work to fix inaccurate information and fight back against frivolous disputes. We will ensure your dispute is taken seriously so you can fix your credit report and begin to improve your credit rating.
Get Help from a Credit Report Lawyer Today
Ensuring that your credit report and score accurately reflect your creditworthiness is essential if you hope to protect your financial future. If there are mistakes on your credit report and you do not know where to turn for help, reach out to an experienced credit report lawyer at Berger Montague.
When you are ready to bring reckless credit reporting bureaus to justice, fill out our online contact form or give our office a call for a no-cost, risk-free consultation.