So, the credit industry denies that it’s possible, but your credit report can have errors.
Remember when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported 20 percent of surveyed consumers complain of errors on their credit reports. Of course, good credit is important for consumers and businesses.
Personally, I know the FTC report in February 2013 was accurate. The three credit bureaus accept erroneous input from businesses without verifying the truth.
It’s important for you to correct such errors. They can range from inaccurate credit reporting to identity-theft criminals opening accounts in your name.
Many credit-bureau errors will result in you having to pay higher-than-necessary rates on mortgages, car loans and other purchases.
Here are the key steps to avoid or remover errors on your credit report:
1. Any time you have a concern regarding a financial matter – even a small issue — start a paper trail.
Always start a paper trail, even if you’re not aware of any credit-reporting errors. File a complaint with the appropriate regulators in your state.
For example, here’s a case-in-point: I once called Pat’s Plumbing in the Federal Way, Wash. area, a multi-location plumber. A young plumber once came to my house to fix a bathroom issue. The young man was friendly – almost charismatic – but he was apologetically in over his head.
Obviously, Pat’s Plumbing failed to send an experienced plumber as promised. I was given a big bill for his work that didn’t solve the problem.
When I called Pat’s Plumbing to discuss the matter, the woman answering the phone was unresponsive and abrupt. She wouldn’t let me talk with “Pat” or anyone else.
She left me no choice. So, I wrote a letter with six specific complaints to the appropriate state agency – the Washington State Attorney General’s (AG) office.
A few months later, much to my chagrin, I discovered the plumber had disingenuously filed a contractor’s lien against me.
So I disputed the error with the three credit bureaus and I insisted they remove the erroneous matter. Equifax and TransUnion immediately removed the error. But Experian employees responded in the same fashion as Pat’s Plumbing – the persons were condescending and ignored me.
In each phone call to Experian, I asked for the person’s supervisor until I worked my way up to a vice president. I told him I had already written the state’s Attorney General. He asked me to fax the letter to him.
After he read my letter of complaint to the AG, the Experian vice president telephoned me to say he had removed the error from my file and said I “was obviously justified.”
The three credit bureaus accept erroneous input from businesses without verifying the truth.
2. Regularly get copies of your credit report from the three credit bureaus.
The bureaus are Equifax, Equifax and TransUnion. You’re entitled to a complimentary report annually from each of them. (Visit www.annualcreditreport.com.)
Again, you should also check your credit report any time you’re about to make a big purchase, such as refinancing your house or buying a car.
3. When you find an error file a dispute.
4. Be tenacious and patient in filing your dispute.
The credit bureaus must respond to in 30 days. The credit bureaus have to contact the company that filed the erroneous matter. Often, such errors are made by a lender. If the lender corrects the issue, it must notify the three credit bureaus.
The credit bureaus must send you the results and a free copy when a change is made. (This doesn’t represent your free annual report.)
5. Another option is to contact the lenders.
You can also request that the lender remove the erroneous reference from your file.
Once, in a financial matter involving Security Pacific Bank, the bank employees were uncooperative.
It concerned a paid-off car loan. I had to go all the way to the bank president, but I got immediate satisfaction from his executive secretary and an apology.
6. Contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
If the credit bureaus are unresponsive or fail to act satisfactorily, contact the CFPB. That’s the federal agency that handles all related matters. The credit bureaus have 15 days to act.
Visit www.consumerfinance.gov/Complaint, or telephone 1 (855) 411-CFPB (2372).
From the Coach’s Corner, see these recommended articles:
- Strategies for Retailers to Prevent E-Commerce Fraud
- Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim if You’re Hit by a Disaster
When God solves your problems, you have faith in his abilities; when God doesn’t solve your problems he has faith in your abilities.