How to Remove Incorrect Information from Your Credit Report

September 19, 2017

Prior to starting my career in real estate, I worked as a credit analyst for Bank of America in their Risk Detection Unit.  My job consisted of looking at our customers' credit reports and deciding where we should assign their credit line on their credit cards.  It's really amazing how much you can tell about somebody just from looking at their credit report; however, many times things just didn't add up.  When something came up that wasn't clear, we'd call the client to straighten it out.  Often times, I'd call and when I referenced a collection account, foreclosed home or maxed out credit card, the customer on the other end would be more confused than I was. 

While I'm sure many of these people were simply bluffing and in fact, did know exactly what I was calling about; many people were genuinely the victim of an incorrect entry on their credit report.  In today's world where a credit score can affect everything from your car insurance rates to whether you have to place a deposit down on your gas utility (yes, that's true), it's essential to make sure your credit report is clear from any mix-ups that could be hurting your score.  First off, what are some reasons for incorrect entries on your credit score?

What Could Cause a Credit Discrepancy?

The most common causes of incorrect entries on a credit report are:

  • Jr/Sr mix-up:  This error is generally caused when two people in a family share the same name.  The most common example of this is a father and a son.
  • Common names:  Individuals with common names are often targets of incorrect credit entries.  I'm talking to you Mike Smith and Bob Jones.
  • Identity theft:  Get an email from a Nigerian prince offering you $12 million if you send along your social security number, mother's maiden name and date of birth?  If so, better watch your credit file!
  • Clerical error:  Until Skynet becomes self-aware and takes over all of our occupations, there are still human beings plugging in numbers on some loan applications.  One person clicking a '0' instead of a '2' could cause you a major headache.

How Can We Fix the Error?

Yes, credit bureaus make mistakes too...(cough, Equifax, cough); however, the three credit bureaus make it pretty simple to have incorrect info removed from your credit file.  

In order to have an incorrect item removed from your credit file, you will need to file a dispute.  You will need to follow the steps detailed below for all three credit bureaus to make sure the info no longer has a negative impact on your score.  Use the links below to file a dispute with each of the three credit bureaus.

All three sites will ask you to enter your personal information to identify you and then ask for details on what item you are disputing from your credit report.  You have the option to upload any pertinent documents that validate that you are not responsible for the item in question.  If you do not have any documents, it's nothing to worry about.  I've had incorrect items removed from my report without supporting documents but it certainly doesn't hurt to provide anything supporting your case.

How Does the Dispute Process Work? 

The dispute process is surprisingly simple.  Essentially, once it is submitted with all the bureaus reporting the item, the bureaus will look over the information and documents you provided.  If you have enough evidence to show it is without question not your derogatory item, they can remove it without contacting the company reporting it. 

If you do not have documentation or clear evidence, they will reach out to the company to give them a chance to prove the item belongs to you.  The credit agencies will send along the information and documents you provided in the online dispute form and the company has thirty days to provide evidence that the item in question does, in fact, belong to you.  If the company does not respond to the credit bureau's request or they can not prove the negative item does belong to you, the item is removed from your credit report.  

Next Steps

If you came across a recent negative item on your credit file that you feel is being reported incorrectly, now is the time to file your dispute!  Use the steps above and you should have an answer within 30 days.

If you have not looked at your credit file in some time, it may be time to make sure everything is reporting accurately.  You can use a free service like the Credit Karma app (www.creditkarma.com) to view your report anytime.  You are also allowed to access one free credit report from each of the three reporting agencies once per year.  You can use www.annualcreditreport.com to access one or all three of your free reports.

I hope you use this post to make sure your credit file is accurate and up to date.  If you have any questions or need help filing your dispute, schedule a time to chat with me at https://brockmalinowski.youcanbook.me/.