What to Do If You Find Errors in a Credit Report

More than one in five Texans have them, but here’s where to seek help

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the consumer watchdog for Americans. They released a study in 2012, which reported that, of the 200 million credit files maintained by the credit reporting agencies, 40 million Americans have errors in their credit files and 20 million have serious errors within their credit files.

Material errors in credit reports makes consumers look riskier than they are, and can cost Americans thousands in losses, due to:

  • lenders charging higher interest rates
  • denial of mortgages or car loans
  • denial of employment

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the credit reporting agency (CRA) and provider of information to the CRA must correct inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. Material errors can lead to a decrease in credit score. Those include:

  • Error in reporting late of missed payments
  • Error in reporting amount of derogatory public records
  • Error in reporting accounts to collection
  • Error in reporting inquiries for new credit
  • Duplicate entries of the same information
  • Dormant account shown as active when consumer had requested closed

What should you do?

First, you should obtain copies of their credit reports from the three large credit reporting agencies. This website offers consumers a free copy of their credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Transunion, Equifax and Experian.

Consumers must review their reports for errors. If errors are found, they should report them to the CRA. When visiting the websites for the CRAs, consumers should keep in mind that these companies are for-profit and are trying to sell products that are unnecessary for the dispute process.

The FTC provides a sample dispute letter for disputing errors on credit reports with the CRAs. When writing, describe the errors with as much detail as possible, and include documentation if possible. Also, dispute the information directly with the provider of the disputed information. The FTC provides a sample dispute letter to credit information providers as well.

What will the CRA do?

The CRA must investigate your dispute, and it has 30 days to complete its investigation. They will send your dispute to the provider of the disputed information, and this provider must verify that the information they provided is accurate and complete.

The CRA must provide you with the results in writing, and include a free copy of the credit report. The CRA must send you a written notice of the identity of the information provider as well. If an item is inaccurate, the CRA must change or delete the information. If requested, the CRA will send corrected credit reports to anyone who received a copy of the consumer’s credit report within the last 6 months.

If the CRA denies making your requested changes, there are limited options. You can ask for a statement of the dispute be included within the credit file, or consider filing a lawsuit under the FCRA or state consumer protection laws. If in this position, you should at least inquire with an experienced Texas consumer law attorney that has worked with state consumer credit and Fair Credit Reporting Act claims.

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