Even if you are not considering a new loan, pulling your reports annually is important to help you watch for mistakes. With identity theft becoming more prominent, it is good to keep an extra eye out.
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What If I Find a Mistake On My Credit Report?
If you find an error, here is what you can do:
- Dispute an item: This can be done online. Each credit bureau does it differently, but they will walk you through it step by step. They will then reach out to the lender, who has up to 40 days to respond. This process may feel like it takes forever, but the bureau will contact you once they have a conclusion. If you haven’t heard within 60 days, follow up. This can be incredibly frustrating if you find multiple mistakes, but it is important to stay on top of this.
- Freeze your credit or put on a fraud alert: A mistake on your report could just be a clerical error. But it could also be fraud. If you do not know for sure what it is, you may want to put a freeze on your credit. This puts your report on lockdown so no one can pull it. The credit bureaus will usually give you a passcode you can then use to contact them and lift the freeze. As of September 2018 the Federal Trade Commission requires that freezes be free, so there is no charge. A fraud alert is simpler; it just sends a notice to people pulling your credit to verify the ID of the person requesting credit. Most responsible lenders will do that anyway. Each of the three reporting bureaus have forms online to fill out. Unfortunately as of right now, there is no one form that goes to all three. So just Google “Equifax freeze credit” and the form should pop up. Then you can do that with Experian and TransUnion as well.