Errors on your credit report, which largely determines what your credit score will be, are unfortunately quite common. Sometimes errors occur because of identity theft or SSN errors; some may be caused by a mistaken reporting of an item that has already been paid, or you may see entries on your report about which you know nothing. An incorrect report does lower your credit score and makes it difficult for you to get a loan or even simple banking services such as overdraft protection.
A good score will help you receive better rates on credit cards and loans, as well as better rates on large purchases such as cars and homes. Often even people who are extremely conscientious about paying creditors on time will still encounter errors on their credit report. On the other hand, those with a bad credit history who are trying to repair it may also notice discrepancies on their report, such as items reported as unpaid that have actually been paid.
Knowing how to instigate your own credit repair will go a long way toward taking control of your own financial destiny.
How to Get a Copy of Your Credit Report
Credit repair begins with requesting your report. By law, you are entitled to receive one free report of your credit activities per year online through annualcreditreport.com or you can request report by calling 1-877-322-8228 or you can mail your report request to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You can also request a free report through a few of the major reporting agencies such as Experian, Equifax or TransUnion however, a credit card is required to sign up for a free trial.
How to Fix Your Credit Report
If or when you notice errors on your credit report you can dispute the mistake and request those errors be corrected. Keep in mind that items that are correct cannot be changed; you cannot remove legitimate debt, liens or court rulings.
Here are some things you can do to remove legitimate errors from your report:
- Contact the credit bureau or agency that reported the error and request an investigation. The credit bureau has a legal obligation to investigate the issue and correct the information within 30 days. Once one credit agency corrects the error it should be corrected across all reporting agencies. After they correct the errors you can receive a free revised copy of your report.
- If the investigation does not resolve the issue, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included with your credit file, you can even ask them to send this statement to those that have requested your credit in the past.
- You can also contact the actual creditor and submit a dispute; be sure to include copies of your supporting information, such as statements showing payment history.
- It is also a good idea to keep copies of your credit statements that can show that a certain creditor has been paid on time or paid in full; you can show these statements to potential creditors and it may help you receive a loan.
Credit repair can be frustrating and it may take a bit of time - up to a month - to get errors corrected. There are also plenty of creditors offering credit cards for bad credit that can help you begin the rebuilding process. But with patience and tenacity, you can greatly improve the accuracy of your report and raise your credit score.
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