Do you regularly monitor your credit report? I strongly advise you to start doing so if you’re not already. There is no worse feeling then seeing a debt that isn’t yours show up on your credit report. And why in the world would you want to be stuck carrying the weight of someone else’s financial burden?
So here is my advice – put in the extra time to get erroneous debts removed from your credit report, it’ll be worth your while in the end! According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers reported they were fairly satisfied with the process of getting errors removed from their credit reports, even if they didn’t always get the exact outcome they wanted. They specifically questioned consumers about the accuracy of the credit report information and ease of the correction process.
To make things a little easier, the financial experts at missmoneybee.com put together a list of steps to help you remove any errors from your credit report.
1. Request your credit reports. Make sure your get one from each of the three credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Not every creditor will report to the same credit bureau so it’s important to get all three. Each report will contain varying combinations of your credit accounts. If there is an unknown debt showing up on one of your credit reports it’s likely there will be others. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to receive your free credit report.
2. Pinpoint every unknown debt. Once you have all three reports in front of you, go through each carefully and find every debt that doesn’t belong to you. Keep in mind it doesn’t necessarily mean identity theft just because you find an unfamiliar debt, it could be creditors reposting old or expired debt. It could even be the result of something known as a “mixed file.”
3. Report to the credit bureau. Don’t hesitate in contacting the credit bureau and letting them know a debt is not yours. You can dispute a claim by phone, letter or online through the agency’s website. Make sure if you file a dispute over the phone, you follow up in writing so you have a record of your claim.
4. Notify the creditor. You want to also let the creditor who reported the data to the credit bureau know when a debt doesn’t belong to you. This step is really important because when a debt is investigated by a bureau, they will most likely contact the data provider (your creditor) asking if the debt belongs to you. If a creditor says “yes” the investigation will end – leaving you responsible.
5. Involve the police if fraud is suspected. A credit bureau or creditor may require you to file a police report in order to have fraudulent items taken off your report. Make sure when you talk to the police you speak in regards to “identity theft” instead of “fraud.” Fraud requires a much more in-depth investigation which many police departments aren’t authorized to handle.
6. Seek legal counsel. If you have taken all the necessary steps to have an issue corrected but the credit bureaus and/or creditors refuse to rectify the situation, seek legal help. You are protected under the Fair Credit Reporting Act which requires creditors and credit bureaus to investigate and correct false information. If they are unwilling to correct their mistake you do have the right to sue.