Managing Your Credit and Disputing Errors
Consumer Protection Attorney
Federal laws protect consumers from banks, credit card companies, other lenders, and credit reporting agencies that report incorrect credit information. They also protect consumers from businesses who use credit reports for impermissible purposes and fail to fix errors on credit reports. There are numerous inaccuracies that may show up on your credit report including: incorrect name or address, incorrect Social Security Number, debts that have been discharged in bankruptcy, and loan or credit card payments that were applied incorrectly.
Reviewing your credit report regularly will alert you to any of these types of inaccuracies. Incorrect or outdated credit reports may affect your ability to qualify for credit cards, loans, and insurance. It may also affect the interest rates you pay, and in some instances, keep you from getting a job. By law, you have the right to receive a free credit report twice annually by following the instructions at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you haven’t checked yours lately, log on and pull your reports from the big three reporting agencies today (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
With the current COVID-19 pandemic still affecting individuals in the U.S., www.annualcreditreport.com allows consumers to pull their reports on a weekly basis for the time being. Presumably, once the pandemic ends, it will go back to an annual basis. If you have had any financial difficulties due to the pandemic, it is imperative that you pull your reports immediately to check for accuracy.
Credit Monitoring Services vs. Annual Credit Reports
In recent years, credit monitoring services have become all the rage. Some tout being “free,” some charge a nominal monthly fee, and some charge a fee for access to all three agencies’ reports each time you request to pull them. The problem with these companies is that they rarely give you a complete report, so you aren’t getting the full story. Failing to pull complete reports may lead to errors going unnoticed and an eventual decrease in your credit score.
How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report
If you see an error on your credit report, dispute the matter immediately with a certified letter letting the reporting company know of the inaccurate information. Most importantly, when you send this letter, go to the Post Office and send a Certified Mail Return Receipt. The receipt you will receive back from the USPS is evidence you may need later to prove you disputed the matter should it not be resolved, and you need the assistance of a consumer protection attorney.