Starting around December 2004, you are entitled to get a copy of your credit report for free one time per year in almost all states. So why are so few people taking advantage of this service, which used to cost about $7.50 to get a copy of your report? |
At the core of things, I think the reason is that very few people realize that their credit reports contain inaccurate data, or more precisely, ERRORS. For the most part, this is due to the large numbers of records that the credit bureaus need to manage for each consumer and business entity in the US. This is further complicated when a particular lender decide to start reporting to one credit bureau versus another.
I mean, think about it for just a second. If you add together all consumers and all businesses in the US, then add at least one record for each loan or credit card account they currently have or ever have had, you arrive at an incredible number which represents BILLIONS of records. That is a system administrators nightmare but it is the job they took on. Now if only 1% of that database is in error, then that means that there are MILLIONS of records with errors, and the actual percentage shown in recent studies if more than 25% are in error!
But something that most people are not in tune with is that it is THEIR responsibility to get those errors corrected. The errors do not correct themselves, and will never get corrected if you do not initiate action to get them corrected. One of the things that compounds this problem even more is that you need to dispute that error with each of the three credit bureaus Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian because they do not share data between them.
One of the biggest problems with having errors in your credit report is that your credit score is not reported accurately. This could be good or could be bad, but for the most part, you need to assume it is bad and that the credit score assigned to you by the credit bureaus (individually) is lower than it should be.
So how do you get that fixed? You need to take action and take that action now without delay. Get a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus, and then go over it with a fine tooth comb to find negative information and inaccurate information. Maybe you had a period of time where you were going through a rough time or were unemployed, where you got behind on your bills that will be reflected there. But if you have taken care of that debt in the meantime, chances are good that the creditor will not be able or willing to PROVE this, and will go with your dispute.
After you have filed a dispute form with the credit bureau, they then have 30 days to either verify the information as being accurate, or deleting it from your credit report. The thing that makes that decision is whether or not the lender verifies the information as being accurate, or just plain does not respond. If this is an account that has been paid off for several years, even though you had some problems with the account early on, the lender may just not take the time to respond at all, in which case the data needs to be deleted.
Now there is the question of the stuff that is REALLY in error, instead of just the stuff that while technically accurate, still reflects poorly on you. But with this, the procedure to file a dispute is exactly the same, and the credit bureaus have those same 30 days to either prove the information or to remove it from your credit report.
After all of this, you should have a credit report that reads the way you want it to read, and that will result in your credit score being as high as it can be. Jon is a computer engineer who maintain a variety of web sites based on his knowledge and experience. For more information about Raising Your Credit Score, please visit his web site at Improve Your Credit Score.
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