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Credit Report Errors

Your good credit can be used to determine your eligibility for everything from a loan to getting a new job. The credit report itself contains information such as your current and previous addresses, if you pay your bills in a timely manner, and even whether you have ever been sued or arrested, or filed for bankruptcy. That information is then gathered by three major reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, and sold to potential employers, banks and financial institutions, who use it to determine whether or not to give you a loan or rent you a home. The Fair Credit Reporting Act seeks accuracy and privacy when it comes to information and credit, and you should frequently review your credit report to check for inaccuracies.

These can include such credit report errors as missing payments, charges that were made against credit accounts that are not yours, or any information that is older than seven years. It is important to check for errors too, to guard against identity theft.

You can order your credit reports once a year for free from the three major reporting agencies, then check them for mistakes or unfair charges, such as finance charges that you never signed off on, or missing payments that you made, but have been shown as late or unpaid. Use a sample letter like those offered by CreditElves to dispute these errors, and follow up as often as necessary to make sure the errors are fixed and the new information is shared with the three reporting agencies and the original creditor.

You will need to have as much information supporting your assertions as possible, and always send copies, not originals, with the salient information highlighted to make it easier for them to understand. The reporting agency must give you a written answer within thirty days. Make sure you keep copies of everything sent for yourself, and calendar when the answer is due. If it does not come, you will need to send a follow-up letter or email demanding that they take action on your case. If they agree with your dispute, make sure the items come off your credit report by ordering another free one from all three agencies. Make sure too, that the original creditor has corrected their files.

You may also be eligible for free reports if a company takes adverse action against you, such as a denial for credit or employment, based upon information gathered from your reports. You must ask for the credit report within sixty days of the denial, and you are also entitled to a free report is you are unemployed and plan to seek a job within sixty days, if you are welfare, or if you report fraud including identity theft.

No matter how you do it, fixing credit report errors is important to your financial bottom line. Nasty surprises when you go to buy your first home are never welcome, but you can mitigate any embarrassment by taking care of your financial picture yourself.

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