Do you regularly check your annual credit report? If you haven’t done so, you better make it a habit.
Credit reports are your keys into getting almost anything in the finance world. Whether you’ll be entering a new job, getting a new house or a car, companies would refer to one staple thing besides your resume – your credit report. It reflects your accountability as a person, and you don’t want to be misjudged because of a discrepancy, right? So what do you?
The best thing to do, to avoid any problems with your credit report, is to always check it for any discrepancy. Be aware of your reports, and be diligent with checking and updating. If ever there are any discrepancies, then it’s time to file a dispute.
When to file a dispute
Once you’ve checked your credit report, it’s best to check for updates of information and discrepancies. Here are the things that you should watch out for:
- Changes or no changes in personal information – if you moved, you might want to have a change of address and phone number. Keeping the information updated will lessen your problems for future loans, purchases and job applications.
- Inaccurate payment information – These show up as late payments that were actually on time, or wrong credit limit, loan amount or account balance. These are particularly important when you’re trying to file a loan or a large purchase.
- Accounts that show up but aren’t yours
- Negative items that appear older than seven years
Who do you contact
Technically, there are two companies that you can dispute over these discrepancies: the credit reporting agency, or the company that gave the information to the credit reporting agency.
- Call or contact the credit reporting agency if the mistake happens to be an incorrect public information, or something appeared that does not belong to you.
- Contact the company that grants the information, or the furnisher, if there was a billing error.
How to file the dispute
Recently, disputes can be sent and settled online through emails and submitting dispute forms on the agency’s website. However, this does not guarantee that you will get a copy of the re-investigation, if there is such a need.
The huge advantage of filing online is you get quicker results. TransUnion has a page solely dedicated to filing disputes and grants you a detailed explanation of what goes on during disputes.
If you do want a copy of the re-investigation, a formal request in the form of a letter would be the best option. You can also call the company you’re disputing with, and they can provide you with documents later.
A New York Times article gave great information regarding disputes and why they’re important.
Some people prefer to call on their CRA’s and leave them to do the investigations on their dispute. But it’s always better to be hands-on on something as important as your credit report. File it yourself, carefully study the report, and follow the investigation.