Since 2012 every American has been entitled to receive their personal credit report for free once a year from each of the 3 major credit reporting agencies. Yet 35% of people don’t check their credit reports and according to the FTC 1 in 4 consumers found at least one error in the credit report. As a small business or a startup your personal credit is just as important as your business credit, so it’s important that both are accurate and up to date. These errors while small and inconsequential can be the difference between a great rate on your next business loan or line of credit or just an OK one. But what do you do if you find an error on your report.
1. If the error is account related, such as for a late payment, payment history or delinquent account your best course of action is to go to the lender, credit card or bank directly. By contacting the lender directly you’re cutting out the middle man and won’t have to wait for the credit bureau to contact the lender on your behalf. If you find that your name is spelled wrong, or the address shown is incorrect you should reach out to the credit bureaus directly.
2. You’ll also want to file a dispute with each of the credit bureau’s showing the error. While dealing with the lender is the fastest and easiest way to correct an error on your report filing disputes with the credit bureaus will give you an extra layer of protection if the lender doesn’t follow through on your request. In order to start an investigation under the Fair Credit Reporting Act you must file a dispute with a credit bureau.
All disputes with Equifax are handled online.
All disputes with Experian are handled online.
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3. Lenders have 30 days, sometimes 45 to investigate a dispute, once an investigation is completed you will be notified whether the information was verified as being correct, was modified in some way or was not verified and has been removed from the report. You should also be proactive and follow up with any pending disputes, it will help ensure your issue is resolved in a timely manner. When you have a dispute pending you should wait to apply for credit. This will ensure that any credit decisions made about you are based on the most accurate information available.
4. If the investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute you can ask that a brief statement summarizing the dispute be included in your report. This can be helpful when applying for a loan, even if the dispute didn’t go in your favor. Not that this option is only available to you if you filed a dispute with a credit bureau, you won’t be able to provide a statement if you filed a dispute with just the lender.