Credit reports are available through credit reporting agencies and are meant to be an accurate summary of your borrowing and repayment history. But, sometimes, mistakes are made. Take charge of your report by knowing where common errors appear, why they appear and what to do about them so your creditworthiness isn't affected.
Get Your Free Credit Report
As Americans, we're all entitled to free copies of our credit report under federal law. You can request a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the major credit bureaus (Experian®, Equifax® and TransUnion®). To access your report, go to annualcreditreport.com. You'll need to have your Social Security Number handy.
Common Credit Errors
Credit report errors usually fall into a few common groups. But take note: errors and corrections aren’t always shared between credit bureaus. You’ll want to separately request and correct information from all three of the major bureaus.
Identity information is inaccurate. Mistakes can range from a typo in your address to a complete identity error with somebody who shares a similar name. Always double check your personal info to be sure it’s completely accurate and an instance of identity theft hasn't taken place. The Fair Credit Reporting Act was enacted to promote the accuracy, fairness and privacy of consumer information contained in consumer reporting agencies’ files.
Account details are inaccurate. Common mistakes sometimes take place, such as a lender giving a credit bureau incorrect information like a wrong name or a misspelled name. Remember - if you close some credit accounts, make sure they're reported as closed by the credit reporting companies.
Accounts are listed that you don’t recognize. If your report contains account information you don’t recognize or there are duplicate accounts, it could mean you're a victim of identity theft. Set fraud alerts that require the business to verify your identity before it issues new credit accounts in your name. In the event of possible fraud, you may request a credit freeze at each credit bureau to prevent access to your credit report. This prevents lenders or credit issuers from approving new credit accounts under your identity. You can freeze your credit on the websites of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
What to Do About Credit Errors
Contact both the credit bureau and the lender (such as a credit card company) if you find inaccurate information. You may include supporting documents such as the annotated copy of the portion of your credit report that contains the disputed items. You can find detailed steps and examples of dispute letters and sample letters from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Improving or Establishing Credit?
Wherever you are in your credit or personal finance journey, Navy Federal Credit Union will meet you there. Get tips and resources on building credit.
- Get a copy of your credit score and report from annualcreditreport.com Next Stepsand check it over carefully for incorrect or suspicious items.
- If you find suspicious or incorrect entries on your credit report, use the reporting tools on the TransUnion Next Steps, EquifaxNext Steps and Experian Next Steps websites to flag them. The Federal Trade Commission also has a checklist of steps for victims of identity theft.
- A credit freeze is the best way to prevent identity theft; contact each credit bureau individually to freeze your credit.
This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.