you know that approximately that approximately 1 out of every 4 credit
reports have errors on them.Â While not all errors are damaging, most
errors can cost you.Â In spite of the fact that we donâ€™t hear as much
about ID theft lately, it still remains the NUMBER ONE crime out there.
While you very likely make every effort to be diligent about shredding
and making all your payments on time, you can still be victimized.Â I
personally have been a victim of ID theft 3 times during my life.Â Even
Ben Bernanke was a victim of ID theft. Â It can happen to you.
When you are applying for credit, every error can be used against you.Â
Following is a list of some common errors:
- Â A parent or childâ€™s mortgage or other
credit obligation is reported on your report as yours (even if your
names are not exactly the same).Â While this type of error may not
damage your score, it will count as a debt obligation against you.Â If
you are being held responsible for a large mortgage payment, it is
likely that you will not qualify for your own mortgage payment if you
are trying to buy a house.
- A paid off debt is reported as still owing.
- A collection has been filed against you
for a debt that was never yours.Â One of the most common forms of ID
theft is using a fake ID to get cell phone service.Â These people will
use the phone service until it is shut off for non-payment, and then get
another false ID to get new service.Â The end result is usually small
collections for cell phone service that was never yours.Â I have heard
of people battling this type of error and never getting it dismissed,
because it is very hard to prove.Â In most cases, unfortunately, I
recommend you just pay it and get it off your record as soon as
possible, especially if the debt is small.Â Unfortunately, because the
debt is small, it is unlikely you will ever learn of it until you apply
- TV cable or satellite service is often
left on after someone moves out of a house or apartment.Â Until the
service is actually shut off, the service provider will report the
delinquency under the current residentâ€™s name.Â This is another one of
those hard to fight bills â€“ but is usually more easily resolved than the
- Blatant ID theft with multiple
creditors is actually easier to solve, but again, if the amounts are
small, you may not know about them until your credit is pulled.
- A debt has been discharged through a bankruptcy, for instance, but is still showing as unpaid.
- Collection agencies are very
irresponsible about reporting paid collections, and court systems are
equally negligent about reporting paid in full judgments.Â
- Creditor delays in posting your payments can result in showing up on your report as 30 days late.
Â ID theft protection is important: the number one tool to protect your credit
Â I recommend to everyone that you
purchase some type of ID theft protection.Â I am not referring to the
protection on your homeowners insurance, because this is simply coverage
to reimburse you for charges that arenâ€™t yours.Â You should have some
type of monitoring service, such as that offered by banks, or
other private entities.Â Preferably this service should be monitoring
your credit 24/7 and sending you an alert when there is a new inquiry,
an unusual charge, or a new line of credit opened in your name.
If you donâ€™t want to pay for a copy of
your credit report, you do have the right to get a copy from each credit
bureau once a year, FREE.Â Also, you can get a free copy of your report
You will have to pay for your scores, but at least you can see what is
being reported.Â AND, be sure to cancel after you get your free report,
or you could be charged monthly for continuing service.Â
Most mortgage lenders can pull a report
for you, but expect to pay $15 â€“ $20 for the report. This is a very
comprehensive report, much more comprehensive than those you will get
from the credit bureaus and it will include all three of your scores as
Correcting errors on your credit report yourself
If there is an error on your report,
itâ€™s really not all that difficult to get them corrected yourself.Â
Remember that while errors are too common, itâ€™s your responsibility to
make sure the information being reported is accurate.
- Contact the creditor that is reporting
the erroneous information. This has to be your first line of attack.
But, if you get no satisfaction this way, the next step is to go
directly to the credit bureaus.
- Though the bureaus do share
information, often the information on the reports differ because many
creditors report to only one of the three bureaus.
The fastest easiest way to dispute an credit report error is online
Online dispute sites for the 3 credit bureaus:
My experience has been that with a little effort you can get most errors corrected pretty quickly with minimal effort.
Once a dispute is submitted you should
receive a response within a few days acknowledging that your case is
being investigated.Â If you do not hear from the credit bureau within 30
days, follow up.Â After your report has been corrected, you should
receive an updated copy of your corrected credit report.Â
One final note:Â If you find, after a
dispute or incorrect challenge of an item on your report, that you are
indeed still responsible for a debt (especially an unpaid collection), NEVER pay by phone.Â
Be sure to send some form of payment that will serve as a receipt, in
the event that you do not receive a receipt from the creditor, such as a
personal or certified check. Most banks will issue a check for you, as
part of their bill pay service. In this case, your bank will stand
behind you in verifying date and amount paid.
You can never be too careful these days.Â Â Â
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