Picture this scenario: You received your most recent credit report from your credit reference agency and get the feeling that something is off. Whether the ending figure is way too low or too high, the point is that the credit score as reported does not truly reflect your spending for the last few months.
If you spot an error in your credit report this could affect your credit score so you would want to act quickly and inform the Credit report agency.
The logical conclusion here is that there was an error in your credit score report. You might be surprised that credit score report errors are a common occurrence and is one of the most reported issues at various credit protection bureaus around the world.
But how can you be certain that your report is wrong and how can you fix it? To answer that, we must first identify what credit score report errors look like.
What do credit report errors look like? Each person will encounter a different set of errors (if they are that unlucky, that is) but most errors come in a number of distinct forms. When looking for errors in your report, you need to be on the lookout for these kinds of mistakes.
This is perhaps the most common report error out there. Simply put, the company mistakes your accounts for those held by another person. As such, any liability or balance accrued by those accounts gets misreported to yours.
For instance, two score holders named “Bob Robertson” might find out that their reports have details mixed between them. Certain expenditures and payments Bob-1 might be credited to Bob-2 while outstanding balances in Bob-2’s account might be sent to Bob-1’s.
It doesn’t even need to be the same exact name for such an error to occur. People with similarly sounding names often get their report details mixed up by their company. Issues on contact and address are also commonplace where the credit company mixes your contact information within another person’s. It could even be something as simple as the wrong middle initial.
A more serious error is when there are transactions made and recorded to your account that you are quite sure you never performed. More often than not, these were made by someone who got hold of your information online and then posing as you, making transactions on your behalf. Simply put, you just became a victim of identity theft.
Errors not only are limited to the way pertinent account data are being entered or presented in the report. This even goes to the way that such errors are being managed or addressed. There are instances when you requested for data to be corrected only to find out that the same incorrect entry is reflected in your most recent report.
Worst, your account might feature one debt being listed multiple times under different creditors. This commonly happens in delinquent accounts or accounts in collection.
There are even instances where payments or dues paid years before remain listed in your outstanding balances. This is quite problematic for any account owner as any balance you’ve paid should be stricken off the list in no less than half a decade.
One of the more common credit report errors out there is when companies report your closed accounts open or when they mark your account as delinquent despite the fact that you have been faithfully been making payments.
There are even instances when a person is falsely presented as the account holder when they are merely the authorized user. There are also simpler, clerical errors in this aspect such as the double entry of debts, incorrect dates in transactions, and the incorrect amounts paid or accrued.
Either way, these errors imply one thing: you are grossly misrepresented in the report. This could lead to a lot of problems such as you having to pay for the same debt twice, dealing with overdue accounts you have already closed, or being accused of not paying your balances when you have actually done the opposite. The most important travesty of it all is that it may even significantly lower your credit score.
Some credit reporting companies might feature the incorrect balance amount in your report, making it appear that you have more or less in that account than what you currently have. Also, the report might present the wrong limit.
This might be insignificant at first glance but an incorrect report on your balances as well as your dues can negatively effect your credit utilization ratio. If the ratio appears higher than it actually is, your ability to use whatever credit you have will be severely limited.
Since you think that there are errors made in the way that your report was made, it is understood that you must address these issues as soon as possible. Here’s how:
The most obvious thing that you can do is to quickly notify the company that something is wrong with the report and that you demand a correction. The faster you can get the company’s attention of their mistakes in your report, the quicker they can come up with a solution for it.
This is especially important in cases of identity theft. If the company is not aware that you think somebody is using your account to make unauthorised purchases, that account won’t be suspended and you’d still be paying for things you never actually bought. The same is true when your account is labeled as a delinquent as silence or a late response often denotes admission of guilt.
Disputing the report as soon as possible, on the other hand, will give the impression that you know your own credit history well enough to believe something is wrong on the report.
Now bear in mind that the Credit Reference agencies do not do is interfere with the data ie They do not add their own opinion to the report, the facts are collected and presented in a standardised way for everyone to understand. But certainly they would be a first port of call.
It’s not enough that you inform the company that they got their report wrong. It’s easy to get frustrated when you received an unfavorable report but simply telling the company that they are wrong will not help matters. You have to point out the mistake yourself.
Identify where and how the company committed the error in the report so that they, in turn, can look over their own records and see if your dispute is grounded on facts. This also leads to the next tip which is…
If you really want your dispute to be airtight, make sure to keep all records of your transactions with you. Do keep in mind that the local credit bureau will be the one to handle the dispute between you and lender. Think of it as a trial of sorts where both parties will present evidences and counter-evidences to support their claims.
So if you had a default six years ago and you notice your report still showing that default then it would make sense to have paperwork of the default notice showing dates that will make the agency’s job easier to amend details to be the new correct.
On your part, you must give support to your claim that the report has misrepresented you and your actual credit status. You can’t expect to win the dispute if you can’t back up your claims with documents. Things like your birth certificate, your own copy of your transaction history, and even receipts can do a lot in establishing your side of the argument.
Depending on where you live as well as the gravity of the claims, disputes with your credit score report can take between 30 to 90 days to be resolved. If your claim holds more ground, you can expect an amended copy of your credit score report sent within a few days after the investigation is complete.
Investigations regarding errors in a credit report do not always end in the account holder’s favour. There are some instances where the company’s claim is more compelling than yours and the allegedly error-filled report will be considered the truest version of your financial activities.
Does this mean that there’s nothing that you can do about the errors? Not really. For starters, you can always request that the credit agency attaches your complaint to their final report. The attachment may even work in your favour if the bureau decides to revisit your case.
However, if the information provided in that report does pose an immediate harm to your reputation or livelihood, your last resort is to take the case to a civil court. The law might provide you with a better avenue to argue your case and demand for a correction.
On the surface, it might seem that that credit score report is the truest, indisputable reflection of your financial activities. However, keep in mind that that document was prepared by people. And people, by nature, commit mistakes.
It’s your duty then to keep track of your credit status and be vigilant when reviewing every report sent to you. A bit of tenacity and consistency will also go a long way in securing a correction of that report.
Have you ever experienced receiving an incorrect credit report? What have you done to correct it? Let us know in the comments section below!