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How to correct your credit report

Posted by Andrew Chan  January 23, 2009 09:30 AM

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Just how do you go about correcting your credit information? About two years ago we applied for a car loan and found out that our son's financial info was included in my husband’s credit report. Our son pays his bills so that is not a problem but he does have loans and credit cards that are NOT ours.

We contacted all three credit reporting companies with NO results. We sent detailed corrections with proof of identification with no results. A person from one of the companies when we were discussing the fact that my son and husband have the same first name (but certainly not the same address, social security etc.) said "close enough".

How exactly do you get the wrong information corrected once they have it in their computers? I might also say that this experience has led us to have very little confidence in the privacy and accuracy of these reports.

Unfortunately, correcting your credit report can be a long and frustrating process. While the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates how credit information is collected, maintained and used it does not ensure that the process is as straightforward as it should be.

Based on your description above, I think you took the proper steps to correct your husband’s credit report. However, I would encourage you to be persistent. If you haven’t already done so, try the following recommendations:

- Contact the reporting agency and the information provider (i.e., the credit card company, loan provider, mortgage company, etc.) in writing with a detailed description of the error or inaccuracy.

- Be sure to send your correspondences by certified mail with a return receipt.

- Keep copies of all correspondences and take detailed notes about any phone conversations that you have with the reporting agencies and information providers. Be sure to note names, dates and other pertinent information about the conversations.

- The FCRA requires reporting agencies to investigate your dispute within a certain amount of time - usually 30 days. You should request a written copy of the results of the investigation.

- The information provider is also required to investigate your dispute once they are notified about it by the credit reporting agency. Be sure to follow up with the information providers to see what corrective action they have taken. Again, request this information in writing.

- If the credit reporting agency finds that the disputed information is wrong or inaccurate, they are required to correct your credit report and notify the information provider of the correction. Both, the reporting agency and the information provider are required to discontinue the use of the incorrect information.

- If your dispute is not settled to your satisfaction after the investigation, the credit reporting agencies should allow you to include a note in your credit report for those who access it in the future. This report can also be sent to those who accessed your report within the past six months (and two years for employment purposes). Keep in mind that the credit reporting agencies may charge you a fee for this service.

- Be persistent. Correcting your credit report is a time-consuming process but it is in your best interest to make sure you have an accurate credit report.

If you think that at the credit reporting agency or information provider has violated any laws, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC is charged with protecting consumers from fraudulent, deceptive or unscrupulous business practices.

To learn more about the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Federal Trade Commission, and the FTC’s recommendations on how to dispute credit report errors visit the following web sites:

Fair Credit Reporting Act (http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fcrajump.shtm)

Federal Trade Commission – Consumer Protection (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/index.shtml)

Federal Trade Commission – How to Dispute Credit Report Errors (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre21.shtm)

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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ABOUT MANAGING YOUR MONEY
Local finance professionals share insights and advice on issues such as budgeting, managing debt, and retirement planning.

About the contributors

D. Abraham Ringer is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER practitioner and a Financial Adviser with Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management in Boston. He is registered in MA, NH, NY and several other states to which his articles are directed. For more information please visit www.morganstanleyfa.com/ringer
Financial Planning Association™ of Massachusetts has 900 members who specialize in the financial planning process. Many of its members engage in philanthropic pro bono work in their communities, recommend legislation, elevate public awareness, promote financial literacy, and advocate for sound economic and tax policies.
Odysseas Papadimitriou is the founder of CardHub.com, a credit card and gift card marketplace, and WalletHub.com, a personal finance site. He has more than 13 years of experience in the personal finance industry, and previously served as senior director at Capital One.

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