The Federal Trade Commission's findings on credit card report errors is abysmal--nearly one in four people have some sort of error on their credit report. So, what are the most common errors? And if you find one, how do you go about fixing it?
There are three credit reporting agencies that lenders use to determine your credit score: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Usually, things work seamlessly in reporting the proper credit item to the person on the report, but that's not always the case. If they mix up someone's name with your own, you could have your credit negatively affected by this action!
How To Fix It:
First, report the error to the reporting agency that made the mistake. You can get a copy of your report at Quizzle.com. You'll need to write a letter (not an e-mail), but they are required to investigate any inquiry. This usually will happen in 30 days.
Maybe your credit line says something different than your credit report, or maybe you closed out a loan that is still showing as "open" on your report. These will all affect your credit in some way (and usually not in a good way).
How To Fix It:
You should talk directly with the bank or lender that is providing the credit agency with information. Find a phone number for a representative of the company and call them directly. You should try to record the call (Details on how to do that here) to make sure you have a record of what was said.
Identity theft is probably the worst possible thing that can happen to your credit. If someone is using your social security number to open new lines of credit in your name, your credit is going to plummet.
Doing damage control after you've been a victim of identity theft can be a months or years-long process, full of frustration and many long phone calls. In order to prevent this kind of thing from happening to you, never give your social security number out to anyone except reputable agencies, leave your social security card out of your wallet and in a safe place, and to constantly monitor your credit for any inconsistencies.
How to Fix It:
You'll need to call the credit reporting agencies and put a freeze on your credit account. This will prevent anyone from opening any more lines of credit in your name. (Unfortunately, that means you, too.) After that, the account will remain frozen until the issues are sorted out. At that time, you may want to consider changing your social security number, which you can find out how to do on the Social Security Administration's website.
The Federal Trade Commission has a comprehensive list of steps you should take if you're a victim of identity theft, so if this happens to you, head there first for details on how to proceed.
Have you ever had an issue with your credit? How did you resolve it?
This article first appeared in Brad's Deals.