Your credit report is an important piece of your financial arsenal. Companies use this report to determine your eligibility to loans, including car loans and mortgages, and some employers may even look at the report before hiring a potential employee. Monitoring your personal credit report allows you to identify any errors that need to be removed or repaired so that your credit score is where it should be.
The First Step
You can view your credit report for free online through one of the three major credit reporting agencies in the nation. Credit reports are updated based on the companies reporting debt, which varies based on the company’s policies, and can contain entries from up to seven years prior. Late payments, missed payments and any debt that you have accrued are all visible on the report.
Keeping good financial records is key to ensuring that your credit report is accurate. Using a day planner, calendar or even a computer program that lists all debt and payments is ideal. Anytime that you think you have a debt listed on your credit report that isn’t accurate, you need to take steps to dispute the debt. You can often dispute debt online through the credit reporting agency or you can call the credit reporting agency to open a dispute against an incorrect entry. Lastly, you may want to contact the company that has listed the debt directly to determine whether the entry is erroneous.
How you handle an error on your credit report can vary based on the type of debt that has been reported. For example, a missed or late payment entry can be remedied by simply calling the lender to verify the payment records. If you have a copy of the check or payment that was sent on time, you may be able to use the documentation to remove an error. Other types of disputes can be handled online using the credit reporting agency’s dispute form.
All three credit reporting agencies in the United States allow you to use online dispute forms to correct errors on your credit report. The company that has made the report will be required to show proof of the debt or the entry can be removed from your personal credit report. TransUnion and Equifax also offer dispute forms that you can mail in if you are uncomfortable sharing your personal information online.
In some cases, it may be to your advantage to enter a legal dispute with a company that is reporting an erroneous debt. Legal disputes should only be considered when you are positive the debt is incorrect and you are suffering consequences, such as the inability to take out a mortgage or have been turned down for a job or apartment, that stem from the false entry. Mistakes do happen, so take steps now to monitor your credit report and dispute any entries that you find that are incorrect to protect your credit score and financial future.