Whether we like it or not, we live in an age where much of what goes on in our daily lives is monitored, collected and sold to interested parties — our driving records, our medical history, our Internet traffic and, most importantly, our credit information.
A mistake on your credit report can cost you money. It can increase the interest you pay on loans, prevent you from getting a mortgage or buying a car, landing a job or getting a security clearance. It’s not uncommon. A new government study indicates as many as 40 million Americans have a mistake on their credit report. Twenty million have significant mistakes. Those mistakes can be nearly impossible to get removed from your record.
Consumer credit reporting is a four billion dollar a year industry dominated by three large companies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. They keep files on 200 million Americans and traffic in our financial reputations. They make their money gathering information from people we do business with and selling it to banks, merchants, insurance companies, and employers and they use it to make judgments on our creditworthiness and reliability. But now the reliability of the industry is being questioned in an 8-year Federal Trade Commission study. According to Jon Leibowitz, the chairman, “One out of five Americans has an error on their credit report. And one out of 10 has an error on their credit report that might lower their credit score.”
Eight million people a year file disputes about their credit report which usually requires a visit to the Experian, TransUnion or Equifax websites. They are primarily designed to sell you premium products, not resolve a dispute. There’s a toll-free number you can call which is likely to connect you to someone on a faraway continent.
Besides the toll-free number, they also give you a post office box address where you can send a letter and documents supporting your claim. In each case, it’s extremely unlikely that anyone with the authority to resolve your dispute will ever actually see it.
As daunting as this might seem, there are experts that specialize in credit management who can turn things around when you feel in over your head. My friend, Anthony Davenport, President and CEO of Regal Financial is just one of these experts. Click HERE for an outline of the services his company provides.
To access a free credit report from each of the three national credit reporting agencies, click here
For tips from The National Consumer Law Center on what to check in your credit report, click here
To file a credit reporting complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a government agency that oversees the credit reporting industry, click here
To read more about credit reporting errors from a Columbus Dispatch investigation, click here