Your Credit Score is very important. Not only does your credit score decide whether you’ll get the real estate loan you applied for or not; in many cases, it also determines the neighborhood you’ll live in, the car you’ll drive, and even the job you’ll qualify for! This is why it is so important for you to ensure that the information used to calculate your score is free from errors.
You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once every 12 months.
It is not uncommon to find individuals complaining about errors on their credit report. This may be due to various reasons. For example, the lender reporting to the credit bureau may have supplied inaccurate information.
However, as a consumer, you don’t have to accept that error. The Fair Credit Reporting Act empowers you to dispute the mistake with the bureau that provided the report.
Whether you dispute the error by mail, phone, or online, it may happen that the bureau refuses to fix the mistake on your report. In that case, you have a few alternatives:
Steps To Take If A Credit Bureau Refuses To Fix Errors On Your Credit Report
Step 1 Credit Fix - Dispute w/Bureau
Firstly, you may choose to dispute the error again. However, in this case, you must provide the bureau with some new information. Unless you do so, the institution may consider your dispute to be frivolous, and, by law, it is not required to investigate such disputes. Nevertheless, even in this case, you have a right to know within five business days why your dispute has been considered frivolous, and what information you must supply for them to take suitable action.
Step 2 Credit Fix - Dispute w/Creditor
The second option is to dispute the error directly with the creditor or institution that provided the data. For this, you are required to send the dispute along with proof of the error to the information provider. You may even escalate the matter to higher officials if it is not taken seriously. Once the institution acknowledges the error, they are required to provide the credit bureau with updated information.
Step 3 Credit Fix - File Compliant
You can even lodge a complaint against the credit bureau with your state Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. These institutions can’t really force the bureau to change your information; however, your problem may be given more attention if they find that you have escalated the matter.
Step 4 Credit Fix - Litigation
Another course of action is to sue the bureau, since it has violated your rights by reporting inaccurate information about you. But for this you must take care to preserve the details of all correspondence with the bureau and your creditors, and you also need to take notes of any phone calls that you may have made regarding the dispute. Hire the services of a lawyer if you feel you have enough evidence to win a case against a bureau.
Step 5 Credit Fix - Do Nothing
Finally, you must also consider whether all the time and effort that goes into disputing an error is worth it. If you find that the mistake is not adversely affecting your score, and your ability to get loans, or is going to fall off your report soon, you can ignore it. Nevertheless, keep close tabs on your report in the future and dispute any new error that crops up.
By scanning your report at regular intervals, you can keep your credit profile up-to-date and free from errors. This will save you a lot of trouble when you apply for a loan, a mortgage, or even a job!
Bonus Content On Credit/Bank Card Fraud
Anyone who uses a credit card frequently is familiar with the term credit card fraud. While that piece of plastic is extremely useful (and in many cases indispensable) for consumers, it cannot be denied that every year millions of dollars are lost due to credit card fraud. The interesting thing to note about credit card fraud is that it comes in many shapes and forms.
It helps to be aware of the following 8 types of credit card fraud that can grab hold of you any time.
- Application Fraud: This takes place when criminals apply for a credit card in your name. As a result, you not only have to deal with credit card fraud but also identity theft. Though banks try to prevent the occurrence of such fraud by asking for original documentation and telephoning employers to confirm your identity, criminals get around this difficulty by forging documents and providing false phone numbers for places of employment.
- Credit Card Imprints: In this case, the criminal manually or electronically skims information placed on the magnetic strip of the card and uses it to create a fake card or conduct fraudulent transactions.
- Card Not Present (CNP) Fraud: As the name suggests, this fraud does not require the presence of a physical card. The scam is carried out over the phone, mail or internet when tricksters know the account number and expiration date of your card. Even if you use a card that requires a verification code, fraudsters try various combinations on small purchases until they figure out the correct number. So always be on the lookout for small unfamiliar items on your statement.
- Counterfeit Card Fraud: Criminals can create a functional, fraudulent card by skimming your card details. Or, if they know your card information, they can create a fake card that holds your details, but whose magnetic strip doesn’t work. In that case, they convince the merchant that something is wrong with the card and have them enter the card details by hand.
- Lost and Stolen Card Fraud: This happens when a card is taken from your possession through theft, or when you lose it, and it falls into the hands of a criminal.
- Mail Intercept Fraud: Let’s say you were expecting a new or replacement card in the mail from an issuer, and a criminal is able to intercept it. In that case, it is likely that he will register the card and use it to make purchases on your account.
- Doctored Cards: These are cards where a strong magnet is used to first erase the magnetic stripe, and then the information is skillfully changed to match those of valid cards. Though these cards don’t work when swiped, the criminal uses his charm to convince the merchant to enter the card details manually.
- Account Takeover: This is perhaps the most common type of credit card fraud and takes place when a criminal obtains all pertinent information and documents. Usually this is done online. The fraudster then impersonates the cardholder and requests a replacement card and for the address to be changed. Once the new card is received, the trickster makes charges to your account.
The best way to protect yourself from credit card fraud is to keep tabs on your credit report. Monitor your card statements and immediately call your issuer if you see suspicious transactions, no matter how small the amount. If you are careful, you can usually avoid being adversely affected by credit card fraud.