Your credit report is one of the most important documents in your life. When you go to get a loan, finance a car or move into a new place, your credit report will probably be checked. If the company reviewing it doesn’t like what it sees, you could end up being denied. While you can control how you impact your credit, you can’t always control what others do. Whether through identity fraud or an unintentional error, sometimes an erroneous account shows up on your credit report. If it isn’t yours, you have the right to have it removed from your record.
Step 1 – Check Your Three Bureau Credit Report Its good practice to regularly review your three bureau credit report to see what is on it. Sometimes an account will have a different name than you expect, leading you to believe there’s an error. For instance, a store credit card may appear with the name of the bank that underwrites it, instead of the store’s name. If there are clearly erroneous entries, identifying them is the first step towards correcting them. Review your credit report carefully and make sure all the accounts are accurate. If applicable, note any accounts that you don’t recognize.
Step 2 – Be Sure to Document Your FindingsKeep a copy of your credit report with the erroneous accounts noted for your records. You will also want to keep records of all correspondence related to correcting the error as well as any information that can support your claim.
Step 3 – Contact the Credit BureausStart by contacting the credit bureau with the incorrect information listed. Because the process for disputing inaccurate information is heavily regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the steps are similar across each of the three major credit bureaus; however there might be slight variances.
Send the marked-up copy of your credit report with a letter explaining why the accounts shouldn’t be in your file to the credit bureau that issued the report. In your letter, request that the items be removed from your credit report. Keep a record that you actually sent the request to your credit bureau, by sending the letter via certified mail with a return receipt.
Step 4 – Contact the Creditor InvolvedContact the company or companies that reported the erroneous information and ask them to remove the erroneous account from your credit report. Provide as much proof as possible that the debt is not yours. For example, if there was a cable or electric account opened in your name, provide proof that you did not live at that address. Send the letter, your supporting evidence, and a copy of your credit report showing the account in question, via certified mail.
Step 5 – Follow UpRequest a copy of your report after 30 days to confirm that the erroneous information has been removed. You have the right to direct the credit reporting agency to send corrections to anyone that has pulled your credit within the past six months or to anyone that pulled your credit in conjunction with a job application within the past two years. Moving forward; check your credit regularly to ensure that the erroneous information doesn’t reappear. And, while you’re developing the habit of caring for your credit, make sure you understand the implications certain actions can have on your credit.
Step 6 – Enlist the Big GunsIf you cannot get the unknown account removed from your report, file a complaint at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website. You may also need to file a police report or hire an attorney to repair the issue.
No Credit Card Required
About the Author
Solomon Poretsky has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. Poretsky holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.
This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.
Published by permission from ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. © 2013 ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. All rights reserved.