TransUnion, Experian and Equifax are the main credit bureaus that are widely used by lenders and other institutions. They each maintain account information about consumers that creditors and collection agencies provide to them. Some companies only report to one or two bureaus and some all three. So each report will yield different information and that is primarily why there is a difference in your credit scores between credit bureaus.
The credit bureaus provide account information such as if an account is open or closed, payment history, monthly payment amount, and more. They also provide some public records information like bankruptcies and foreclosures. This is data that they sell to lenders and other institutions.
GOT AN ERROR IN YOU CREDIT REPORT?
Unfortunately, these reports are not always perfect. Many people have something on the credit report that isn’t accurate. Those errors could cause your credit score to decrease, sometimes significantly. So, fixing these credit report errors are crucial to your financial future. Especially since your credit scores often determine how much you pay for the items you need and desire. The lower your scores the more you will pay and that is a fact.
There is something you can do. In 1970 congress passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act(FCRA). The Fair Credit Reporting Act governs the activities of credit reporting agencies such as the three mentioned above and many others. Two main areas that this Act protects are the information that is actually being reported and how credit information is recorded. FCRA states that the information reporting in your credit report must be verifiable, complete, and accurate or the bureau must be correct or delete.
FCRA also requires that consumer reporting agencies provide a free annual credit report upon request. If you haven’t already asked for one this year here is the link: Get Your Free Reports Here
HOW TO CORRECT ERRORS
Consumers can correct the information in their credit reports a few ways:
1. You can file disputes online with each credit bureau that is reporting erroneous information.
Experian, Equifax and TransUnion now offer consumers the opportunity to correct credit report errors through a portal on their websites. We don’t necessarily think this is the best way because you have to agree to their terms which voids your ability to sue if they don’t correct or delete inaccurate information. However, it is generally a faster turnaround than the other options.
Once consumers contact the bureaus, they will then contact the financial institutions – usually a credit card company, bank, or mortgage lender that initially provided them with the incorrect information and ask them to investigate your claim.
2. You can also directly contact the financial institutions that provided Experian, Equifax or TransUnion with incorrect information.
This requires a little more work: you will usually need to provide a written letter describing the error.
For example, if your credit card provider mistakenly told Equifax that you paid your bill late twice last year, you can write to the provider to explain that you have never made a single overdue payment.
WRITE A LETTER TO DISPUTE CREDIT REPORT ERRORS
This is our preferred method of disputing because you have a paper trail. You will simply describe the error on the report and ask them to correct or delete it. Provide them with any supporting documentation, if any.
Do not use the form of the online dispute of credit agencies, because you simply cannot fit all the necessary details into the space you are given. Using these forms simply puts you at a disadvantage from the beginning.
Take impeccable notes through your process and if you they did not correct the inaccuracies consult with a FCRA attorney.
- Once you send out your dispute letters federal law gives credit agencies 30 to 45 days to respond.
- When the dispute is resolved, the financial institution that provided the bureau with the information in question will contact the credit bureau.
- The institution will tell them to correct, remove, or update the information on the account in question.
- Sometimes, they come back and say they verified the information is reporting accurately.
- Consumers who are not satisfied with these initial results will need to contact the lender or bank directly to continue the dispute.
Every time you see an error or find information that should not be there, you must dispute it. The objective is that the report is 100% accurate.
THE EASIEST SOLUTION
Not everyone is willing (or has the time) to be on top of this process. Sometimes the fit to get an accurate and complete credit report is difficult and takes months. That is why credit repair companies exist. Credit repair is tedious, but someone has to do it.
Finding a credible company is important. Depending on the state you live in there may be other requirements that a credit repair company must uphold, like bonding and being registered with the Department of Justice. Whatever you do just make sure you do your due diligence on your credit report or in your search for credit help.