Did you know that one in four consumer credit reports contains some kind of misinformation or mistake? You probably do know that, and that’s why you’re here. You want to protect yourself from the harm a credit report mistake can cause by reviewing your credit reports regularly, but what exactly are you looking for?
Here’s What to Look for in Each Section of Your Credit Report
You will have to review each of your three credit reports—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—individually because they may each contain different information. Even though they are different agencies, the reports are organized in the same way and have similar sections. We take a look at what kind of mistakes to look for in each section.
If your file was mixed up with another person’s because of a similar name or shared address, this is where you’ll see the evidence. In this section, you want to look for mistakes with your:
- Name, address, or phone number. Look for an incomplete name or aliases listed that aren't you.
- Social Security Number. Check that the number listed is correct and make sure there are no additional numbers listed.
- Date of birth. You don’t want to see multiple birth dates listed here.
- Marital status. If you are divorced, your reports should not list your former spouse.
This is the section with information about public financial records, such as bankruptcy judgments, liens, and overdue child support. These entries can remain on your reports for seven to ten years but must be removed after that. Here, you want to look for records that should have been removed such as:
- Bankruptcies you filed more than 10 years ago
- Bankruptcies that are not identified as either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13
- Lawsuits or judgments that are more than seven years old (10 years for California judgments)
- Bankruptcies filed by someone other than you, such as a spouse or ex-spouse
- Tax liens that you paid more than seven years ago
- Liens that that are listed as unpaid that you actually paid
Here is where all of your credit cards, loans, collections accounts, medical billing, and other “tradelines” are listed. This section is where most of the errors occur, so you must examine it carefully for the following kinds of errors:
- A delinquent account that has the wrong “date of delinquency” or that is being reported more than 7.5 years from the date of original delinquency.
- A debt that was discharged in bankruptcy but is still listed as something other than “discharged in bankruptcy.”
- Accounts you closed, but that don’t indicate “closed by consumer.”
- A vehicle account listed as a “repossession” when, in fact, you voluntarily returned the vehicle.
- Inaccurate account histories.
- A credit account you don’t recognize.
- A credit account belonging to someone with a similar name or Social Security Number.
- A missing notation that you have disputed an account or portion thereof with the creditor.
- Any overdue child support that is more than seven years old.
- Any account that is a result of ID theft.
In this section, you can see who has been requesting copies of your credit report. Only certain parties are permitted to pull your credit report, so if you see requests made by creditors who should not have been pulling your report, you can get their inquiry removed. Some examples of impermissible requests include:
- Former creditors on accounts that were discharged in bankruptcy.
- Car dealers where you only test-drove a car and were comparison shopping.
- Retailers where you were only looking for a quote and made no application for credit.
- Employers or potential employers to whom you did not give written permission.
So, What Do You Do When You Find Mistakes?
While the legwork of finding the errors is up to you, once you have made a note of the discrepancies you have found on each of your three credit reports, our credit reporting dispute team can help you with the next steps. Some of the mistakes can be easily corrected by writing to the credit reporting agency and providing evidence of their error, but others will require tenacious follow-up and possibly filing a lawsuit for damages. Contact the Cardoza Law Corporation for help when your credit report has mistakes that will harm your credit.