A credit report can make or break your ability to qualify for a loan, where you are able to live, your employment opportunities, and much more. Errors on a credit report can turn your life upside-down, closing doors and costing you money.
There are steps you can take to correct credit reporting errors, but the process can be time-consuming. If you're struggling to resolve an error or the reporting agency fails to correct its mistake, hiring an attorney may be in your best interest.
How Do I Know If My Credit Report Contains an Error?
The best way to catch errors is to request a credit report from the major credit bureaus. Transunion, Equifax, and Experian are required by law to provide you with a free annual credit report on request. You are also entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from other specialty consumer reporting agencies.
You can request your free annual credit report by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com and completing the online form. This is the only official website authorized by the federal government where consumers can request free credit reports.
You may be entitled to request additional free reports if you experienced an "adverse action" as a result of a credit report. Examples of adverse actions include:
- You were denied employment
- You were denied insurance coverage
- You were denied credit
- You receive unfavorable terms for insurance coverage, interest rates, government benefits, etc.
Many consumers don't know about errors on their credit report until they receive a notice of adverse action. If you receive an adverse action notice, you have 60 days to request a free credit report from the agency that reported the information. Not all adverse actions arise from errors. However, the only way to identify inaccurate information and dispute it is to review a copy of the report.
How Do I Dispute a Credit Report Error?
According to the Federal Trade Commission, 5 percent of consumers have one or more errors on credit reports prepared by the major credit bureaus. If you discover an error on your credit report, here's what you should do next:
- Contact the credit reporting agency. Some agencies offer consumers the option to file a dispute online, while others may require you to submit a credit dispute letter. If you send a letter, it is helpful to enclose a copy of your credit report, as well as copies of any documents supporting your dispute. Be sure to send everything certified mail, so you have a record of what you've done.
- Notify the furnisher of your dispute. Credit reports are based on information furnished by a wide range of companies and institutions. In addition to the credit bureau, you should also notify the party reporting the error of your dispute. Include copies of documents that you feel prove the error, and send these certified mail, too.
- Wait. This is the hard part. It may take 30 to 45 days for the credit bureau and the furnisher to investigate your dispute. The reporting agency will send you a report of its investigation, as well as a revised credit report free of charge to reflect changes based on your dispute.
Unfortunately, following all of these steps is not a guarantee of success in your credit dispute. If the consumer reporting agency and/or furnisher continues to report the error, an experienced attorney can help you pursue legal action under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Contact Mehalic Law PLLC to Dispute Credit Report Errors
Attorney Jeff Mehalic has been protecting consumer rights for over 30 years. If you have been the victim of a credit reporting error, he can act on your behalf to get inaccurate information corrected, as well as pursue compensation for damages you've suffered due to the incorrect report.
Please call (304) 346-3462 to schedule your free credit repair consultation. Mehalic Law PLLC serves clients in and around Morgantown, Wheeling, Martinsburg, and nearby communities in West Virginia.