How to avoid credit report errors

CHARLOTTE — Imagine being turned down for a loan or paying higher interest rates due to errors on your credit report. It happens more often than you might think. And the negative consequences don’t stop there. Checking the accuracy of your credit report is easy.

Credit report errors are the top consumer issue filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

And the problem is getting worse, with complaints more than doubling in just three years.

Common errors include inaccurate personal information, duplicate accounts, closed accounts reported as open, and paid-off debt appearing as unpaid.

“A credit report is like an X-ray of a person’s finances,” explained Lisa Gill with Consumer Reports. “Incorrect information on that report can prevent a person from getting credit or a loan, renting an apartment, getting a good insurance rate, or even getting a job.”

You can get your credit report for free every week from each of the major bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com.

“If you do end up finding an error, fix it right away.” Gill encourages. “You’ll want to file a dispute with each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Include all the evidence you have, like account statements and payment records. Create a paper trail by writing a detailed letter of explanation; send all of these via certified mail; and keep copies for yourself.”

Remember to check your credit report often. You can set your phone to remind you. Just like you go for a checkup with your doctor, you have to check your credit.

Consumer Reports says adding a note to your credit report file can provide context for future lenders, employers, or landlords, potentially improving their perception of your financial situation.

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