Although uncommon, errors can occur in your credit report. Ensuring everything is being reported accurately is key to unlocking the benefits of a positive credit history. A strong, accurate credit report will help you get the credit you want at the best rates available. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit reporting agencies to notify lenders when you believe something is being reported incorrectly so that the information can be updated in the lender’s records as well as in your credit report.
In order to find errors, you should check your credit report regularly. Websites like freecreditscore.com can help. By enrolling in freecreditscore.com, subscribers receive unlimited access to their credit report and score, and the chance to get credit score alerts, identity protection alerts and fraud resolution support. A mobile app allows users to monitor their credit on the go, and monthly reports and statements can help consumers stay on top of their credit and be aware of changes quickly.
When you review your credit report, check for these five issues:
1. Identification that doesn’t belong to you – Your credit report lists information that is reported by lenders as belonging to you. Look for variations in name spelling, names you’ve never used, different street numbers or Social Security numbers. They may just reflect typos in a lender’s records. But, they also could be a sign of identity theft. In either case, once found, the credit reporting company can help you correct the information or assist with fraud recovery.
2. Accounts that don’t belong to you – Like variations in identity information, an unrecognized account may be a sign of fraud that requires immediate action. Know that accounts may be reported under a name you don’t recognize. For example, a retail account may be reported under the name of the lender that actually manages the account for the store. If so, it would be no cause for concern, but it’s best to monitor your report for extra peace of mind.
3. Incorrect payment status – Late payments hurt credit scores more than anything else. If an account is reported as late but you made the payment on time, you can contact the credit reporting agency to help get the information updated.
4. Public records that don’t belong to you – Your credit report can include civil judgments, tax liens and bankruptcy public records. If your credit shows a lien against you for a home you don’t own, or you have never declared bankruptcy but your report shows a court record or account as included in bankruptcy, your credit can be affected.
5. Inquiries you didn’t make – Your credit report contains a list of creditors who have asked for it. Each entry on the list is called an inquiry. If you see inquiries you don’t recognize, it could be a sign of fraud.
Your credit report likely won’t have any errors, but if it does, one thing is certain: they can adversely affect your credit score, thereby hindering your ability to secure credit at favorable terms. The best way to spot credit report errors is to stay on top of your credit and to review your report regularly.