One of the reasons that you should regularly check your credit report is to double-check to see that you aren’t being held back by errors.
Credit report errors are fairly common, and in some cases can actually result in you having a lower credit score than you deserve.
I’m not talking a few points either.
There could be errors on their that seriously impact your credit report to the point where you aren’t getting loans.
The NYT reported on a woman who received an $18 million settlement from Equifax, one of the three main credit bureaus, because they confused her with another woman of the same name and didn’t take action when the woman tried to fix the problem.
The real scary thing was that it was shown that Equifax basically did nothing to investigate the errors when the woman made numerous disputes. It’s bad enough when the errors show up but it’s even worse when nothing will get done when a legitimate dispute is filed (hence this woman’s large settlement).
This just shows you how diligent YOU, as the consumer, have to be to make sure there are no errors on your credit report. You can’t make negative items that are real disappear. But you better fight to get rid of the the items that are mistakes!
If you don’t take your credit accuracy into your own hands I can tell you that no one else will.
Here are 4 credit report errors that may be killing your credit score:
1. Duplicate Accounts
Sometimes, your credit report reflects duplicate accounts. Perhaps your mortgage is listed twice (that can make your debt to income ratio look huge). Maybe a credit card account is listed twice.
Duplicate accounts make it look like you have more debt than you actually have, and that can slow things down if you are looking for approval on a mortgage loan, since the lender might question your ability to make debt payments.
2. Accounts that Have Been Closed are Reported as Open
If you consolidate your student loans, your smaller loans are paid off and you have one larger loan. However, in some cases, the consolidated loan amount will be reported, and the other loans still appear open. This can make it appear as though you have more debt.
Another issue is that you might have closed an account, or paid of a personal loan. If these loans still appear as open, or appear as though you still have a balance, that can affect your ability to receive approval for a loan.
Imagine going through the process of taking care of a loan and it still appears on your credit report?!? Don’t let that happen to you.
3. Missed Payments
Do you make all your payments on time?
Check to ensure that the information is properly reported on your credit report. Since payment history is the most important aspect of your credit score, having improperly reported payments on your credit report can result in a lower score.
If you have made all your payments on time, make sure to dispute the report. You want your credit report to reflect your good financial habits, not indicate that you aren’t paying on time and in full.
4. Identity Mix-Up
Your identity can be mixed-up on a credit report and cause problems. If you have a name similar to someone else’s, their credit problems can be reported on your report. This is the issue the woman in the NYT article had. Check your report for odd accounts, and repeated mistakes. It could be that an identity mix-up is causing you problems.
Another issue is that your identity might have been stolen, and fraudulent accounts are weighing down your credit report and affecting your credit score. Keep on the watch for accounts that aren’t yours so that you can fix identity issues with your credit report.
What Can I Do About Errors On My Credit Report?
You want to dispute errors on your credit report as quickly as possible. The process can be long and frustrating, but if you want to get on track to fix your credit report, and improve your credit score, you need to dispute errors. Make sure you document every step you take and keep copies of anything you send to a credit bureau.
Another step you can take is to freeze your credit. This action is good to prevent identity theft. For a small fee the credit bureaus will basically lockdown your credit. If anyone tries to open credit in your name they will be blocked. The drawback to this is you won’t be able to readily open up any credit accounts either. You get a confirmation number wen you freeze your accounts that you will need to un-freeze your account.
Once every 12 months you have the right to request a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. You can get this from annualcreditreport.com. Take advantage of this right and requests your reports! One thing you might like to do is request one report at a time, each four months apart. This way you can monitor your credit over the course of twelve months.
Remember — Check your credit report regularly, and make it a point to notice mistakes, and do what you can to get them fixed as quickly as possible. No one is going to care more about errors than you.