Making Corrections to Your Credit Report
If you are considering making changes to your credit report, it probably means there is not only bad information on it, but information that hurts your credit score. This score is a three-digit number that helps lenders decide whether to give you a loan and how much interest you will pay. You have a greater chance of getting a loan with a good credit score, as well as loans that will be much cheaper over time. Bad credit can be expensive, and even cost you the chance at a job.
Obtain a Copy of Your Credit Report from the Major Agencies
The first thing you need to do is order a credit report from all three of the large credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. They will have slightly different information, and you should be as thorough as possible. Then take the following steps:
Make a list of all mistakes. Whether it’s something small like the limit on a store credit card or a loan that wasn’t yours, keep a careful tally.
Dispute all old or incorrect information. Notify the creditors or collection agencies of all old or bad information. Do this in writing immediately—resolution could take months—and when it’s resolved send notice to the credit bureau. If you need to pay off some bad debt, do so immediately or make arrangements to do so, and get a letter from them confirming that you have paid the debt. Remember that even if you do pay, unless the original company you owed money to agrees (in writing) that the credit bureau may delete the information, the collection will remain on your report for 7 to 10 years—so get that letter!
Dealing with Creditors You Cannot Find
If you can’t find a particular creditor to straighten things out, there is little chance that the bureaus know where they are, either. In that case, find a credit dispute form for the credit bureaus on the internet, fill it out, and send it to the appropriate bureaus.
Make Sure Your Records Are Not Getting Mixed Up
Make sure you aren’t getting mixed up with someone with a close or identical name. Dispute these quickly, in writing, and include as much information about yourself and the other party as you can. Make sure the credit bureau knows which accounts are yours.
Make Sure You File Disputes with All Three Agencies
If you have a dispute item for all three reports, dispute it with all three bureaus. Disputing with one bureau does not constitute a dispute with the other, even though it’s the same item.
By making sure your credit reports contain only accurate information about you and your credit history you will be able to be in a far better position of obtaining the credit you need -- either through a loan or a credit card -- should the need arise in the future.