Most people are aware that they can obtain a copy of their credit report for free – or for a minimal charge – from credit-reporting agencies like Experian and Equifax. However, many have no idea what’s on their credit report, how to read it, or how to correct erroneous information. This article reviews six items that appear on your credit report, and shows you how to fix any errors you may find.
Are your name, social security number, address and other personal information accurate? If not, contact your credit-reporting agency to correct the error. A lending company would hesitate before lending money to someone whose name or address is different on their loan application than on their credit report.
Open Account Information
Your credit report details all of your current credit card accounts. It spells out your credit limits, whether you have been paying your bills on time, and if you hold any balances. Pay particular attention to the accuracy of this information. Lenders use it to gauge whether they’ll lend you money.
Credit reports also detail information on outstanding mortgages; your account number, the date you signed your mortgage and whether you have been late with payments. The same information is available for any other outstanding loans or lines of credit from your financial institution. It is vital that this information is correct. If a lender perceives you as having too much debt they are unlikely to approve you for another loan.
Collections/Negative Account Histories
Your credit report identifies whether you have any accounts that are in collection, and the status of those cases. Because this information can adversely impact your credit score and determine whether you are able to obtain a loan, it is important that it is correct. Some credit-reporting agencies offer services to help you resolve these issues or advice on how to improve your credit score.
Any judgment or award against you in a court of law will be included on your credit report. It will specify the case number, identify the plaintiff and the defendant, verify whether the case is open or closed and detail its resolution (i.e. the amount that has been awarded). Should there be a lien on your property, your credit report details the case number, the court where the lien was established, the amount of the lien and whether the lien has been released. Make sure your credit report reflects if your lien has been satisfied or the judgment has been reduced or rescinded.
Bankruptcy information is also available on your credit report and should be monitored carefully. The report will outline whether it is an individual or a joint bankruptcy and include the amount of assets and liabilities you have incurred. Incorrect bankruptcy information (especially the date bankruptcy was declared) is a frequent source of problems for consumers looking to obtain loans.
Correct Erroneous Information
There is a space for comments under each section of your credit report for fixing errors. You might say that a lien was established due to a misunderstanding with a vendor, and that it was promptly satisfied. You could note that you have paid off outstanding balances listed on the report. You may even choose to briefly explain why you are in arrears on a certain debt payment.
When correcting factual inaccuracies such as your address or the spelling of your name, provide your credit agency with written proof as soon as possible. With appropriate documentation, your credit agency should make the necessary changes fairly quickly.
Try to obtain your credit report at least once a year and review it for inaccuracies. If you spot errors have them fixed as soon as possible. You’ll be glad you did.