Be A Credit Detective2 min read

When Marisa Gal?n checked her credit report, she noticed accounts that were not hers, but thought nothing of it. What she didn’t know, however, was that these accounts were culprits that were negatively affecting her credit-and her ability to get a loan at her local bank.

Your credit score is a reflection of every piece of information on your credit report-whether it’s yours or not! Be sure to review your reports from all three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union) for accuracy once a year and several months before applying for a loan. Over 70% of individuals are victims of at least one credit error often because a report is incomplete, contains information about someone else, or is out-of date. For example, if someone else has the same name as you do, their credit information may mistakenly be included on your credit report. Don’t be a victim! If you notice an error on your credit report, you have the right to have it investigated and corrected.

Credit experts at ACCION suggest that you send the credit agency a dispute letter to initiate an investigation (visit http://yourmoney.accion.org to download a sample dispute letter). Include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position and prove your identity. Send your dispute letter and all relevant documentation via certified mail. Don’t remain silent: clearly identify each item in your report that you dispute, state the facts, and explain why you dispute the information, and request deletion or correction.

Credit reporting agencies must investigate the claim within 30 days, and if the information proves to be inaccurate, all three credit reporting agencies must correct the information. If an error isn’t found immediately, don’t give up hope- you may also contact the creditor directly to resolve the problem. As a last resort, you have the right to tell your side of the story in a 100 word explanation attached to your credit report.

So go ahead and start investigating-it’s your credit, after all!

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