You just discovered an unknown account on one or more of your credit reports and need to fix it as soon as possible. You can do this without resorting to companies that promise to repair your credit. According to the law established under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to an accurate credit report, and you can dispute any inaccurate information with the respective credit bureau.
Confirm the Inaccuracy
Whether you were notified by a lender about the unknown account or you found out online, your first step is to check your credit report with each of the major bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- to confirm if the entry is an error. It could be your account under a different name, a gas card that appears under the name of the underwriting bank instead of the gas brand, for example. You can obtain a free copy of your report from annualcreditreport.com or by contacting each bureau. Ascertain if the entry is truly an unknown account.
Document Your Findings
It is important to keep a copy of the credit report that shows the unknown account. Highlight or circle the item that you believe is erroneous. Make copies of this report and other documents you've gathered that support your claim. As you proceed with the process of rectifying your report, there's bound to be communication back and forth with the credit bureaus. Be sure to keep records of all related correspondence, including supporting documentation.
Contact Credit Reporting Bureaus
Assemble the credit report that highlights the erroneous entry and supporting documents. Draft a letter explaining why the information is inaccurate and ask the credit bureau to remove the unknown account from your credit report. If more than one bureau shows the error, submit the documents to each agency via certified, return-receipt mail. The credit bureau will investigate your claim and contact you in writing with the results. If your dispute is upheld, the entry will be deleted from your file, and you should be issued a free copy of your report along with the contact information of the entity that provided the unknown account.
Contact the creditor, company or companies that supplied the information in dispute and ask them to rectify the mistake as you have no liability with them. Although the credit bureau is obligated to contact the company, being proactive will help protect your credit history and avoid further reporting about the account. You reserve the right to direct the credit bureau to make the corrections available to anyone who accessed your credit report in the past six months -- two years if the inquiry was about a job application.
Dr Jack Gordon, the Chief Technology Officer at Strontium Logistics, is a 20-year veteran of the engineering and marketing business who favors stiff drinks, good debates and developing innovative digital marketing strategies to help companies grow.