Having your credit up to date is essential, since negative or incorrect information can have a profound impact on your life. Negative credit can damage your ability to rent or purchase a home, obtain credit or insurance, open a bank account or even get a job. According to CNBC, an astounding 74 percent of consumers complained to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about mistakes on their credit reports. Consider these steps to update your credit report in a timely manner.
Get Your Free Credit Report
Obtain a current credit report by going online to AnnualCreditReport.com, the official site to access your credit reports from all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). If you can't access your credit reports online, request them in writing by providing your name, current and former address, Social Security number, date of birth and signature. Here are the addresses of the three major credit-reporting agencies:
Equifax: P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374
Experian: P.O. Box 9701, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022
Examine the Report
Check each credit report for errors or inaccuracies. For fast results, complete the dispute forms online or over the telephone, but you must have a current credit report to do so. If you're unable to make updates or complete disputes online, write to each credit-reporting agency. No matter which option you choose, be sure to clearly explain your situation and request an investigation. Although not instant, you’ll have your updated credit report in about 30 days. Credit-reporting agencies have 30 days to contact creditors and verify your claims. After that time, the credit bureaus must inform you in writing of their findings and provide you with a new, free credit report if any changes were made.
Get Mistakes Corrected
Contact your creditors and request that erroneous credit information be corrected or updated on your credit report. Creditors might be able to report to the credit bureaus quicker than you can file disputes. Check with them about credit-reporting policies, and familiarize yourself with the Fair Credit Reporting Act so you know your rights.
While not a quick fix, you could add a consumer statement on your credit report explaining any updates or clarifications. The statement will remain on your credit report until you request its removal, and lenders could take it into consideration when granting credit.
If you send supporting documentation to the credit-reporting agencies, never send originals. Remember to keep copies of all correspondence, and use certified mail for legal, verifiable proof of your communication.