When it comes to the credit world there are a lot of aspects to navigate, such as maintaining a good credit score, balancing debt with credit, and monitoring credit. Every move made in the credit world is monitored by credit reporting agencies, also known as credit bureaus. In the United States there are three major credit bureaus/ agencies. Sometimes, these credit reporting agencies may make mistakes on a credit report and when they do, a person has the right to correct or dispute those mistakes. Disputing a credit score can be a complicated process, but a person can beat the credit reporting agencies when it comes to disputing a mistake on a credit report.
What Is a Credit Report?
A credit report has all of the information regarding any type of lending a person receives from institutions that report to the credit reporting agencies. Financial details such as the type of credit/loan acquired, the date the account was opened, the credit limit/loan amount, payment history, and the account balances are all listed on a credit report.
This information is used by future lenders to determine eligibility or can be requested by an individual person to monitor their own credit. Since there are three major credit reporting agencies, there will be three separate credit reports (each report respective with each agency). Sometimes the information on these credit reports will vary. So when looking at credit reports it is important to request all three.
How Do Mistakes Happen On a Credit Report?
There are many reasons why mistakes can happen on a credit report. Sometimes these mistakes are simple, such as a creditor showing up multiple times, or a clerical error will be made, but these mistakes can be easily disputed. However, sometimes larger errors can be a sign of something more serious. Credit reports can show the first signs of identity/account theft. This is because most of the time, identity is stolen to gain access to money. Identity theft often involves opening more lines of credit, taking out loans, or taking over existing credit accounts. These types of mistakes can be difficult to dispute because they are a little more complicated and might require additional time to for a credit reporting agency to dispute.
How to Dispute Something on a Credit Report
It is best to report a mistake as soon as possible. Nowadays, a person can file a dispute online through each credit bureau’s website, or it can be done via mail. In order to dispute something via mail on a credit report, a person should first contact the credit reporting agency, and then mail in the following information:
- Personal Information– Let them know your personal information and contact information.
- State and Prove the Dispute– Write a letter detailing the mistake(s) and provide documentation that can prove it.
- Request for Deletion or Correction- State what you want the credit reporting agency to do with the disputed information.
If a mistake involves bigger issues such as identity theft or account theft, then a credit repair service might be the right way to handle a dispute. A credit repair service helps people by fighting their disputes for them. Credit repair services offer a couple advantages; they are knowledgeable about the law and identity theft/account theft, and they can complete the entire process for their customers. When looking for credit repair services, it is important to make sure that they are reputable.
How to Protect Your Account and Personal Information
The best thing a person can do to protect their account and personal information is to check all three credit reports often, to ensure the information is correct and that there isn’t any type of theft occurring. In addition to checking credit reports, there are everyday precautions a person may take in an effort to protect account/personal information:
- Online Security– When doing anything important, such as banking, or accessing any personal information online, it is best to do it on a trusted and secured Wi-Fi network. Additionally, it is best to stay away from public computers when accessing important data.
- Use Secure ATMs- Scammers can rig ATMs and steal banking and personal information. It is important to stick to ATMs that are either inside banks, or are affiliated with them, as they tend to be safer.
- Be Aware of Scams – Scams change all the time, and can vary from one area to another. These scams usually involving a call, letter or email, that phish for more information. When anyone contacts you claiming they are a lender/financial institution, it is best to hang up and call them back through an official number.
Going against or beating a credit reporting agency can be done if necessary. Usually a person will go against a credit reporting agency if there are any mistakes on their credit report. These are also known as disputes. Disputes can be done by an individual person or by a credit repair service. Many people choose to take that task on themselves. However, when credit report errors are due to serious issues such as identity theft, it is best to find a reputable credit repair service. There are many ways a person can protect themselves from identity of account theft.