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Credit Mishaps

Inaccuracies on Your Credit Report

Common Types of Inaccurate Information

When you review your credit report, you'll want to look for information that is unusual or does not belong to you. The types of account information that are commonly disputed include:

Information from someone else's file - Accounts belonging to someone with a name similar to yours can be mixed with your credit information. The fact that certain information may actually belong to someone else is not apparent from your credit report alone. If the information is negative, such as a bankruptcy, this can impact your credit worthiness. Fortunately, this can be fairly easy to resolve. The bureau's investigation often quickly confirms that the mixed information belongs to a different person, based on social security numbers, date of birth and full legal name.

Inaccuracies - Because creditors sometimes report incomplete account histories or don't always account for delays in the receipt of payments, it is possible that your report may list late notations with which you don't agree. Presenting back-up documentation, such as cancelled checks, can be very useful in this situation.

Outdated information - With the exception of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, negative account information may no longer be reported by your creditor(s) after seven years from the date of first delinquency. If the creditor reports that the seven-year cycling off period has been reached, the credit bureau may no longer report that account.

Fraudulent Accounts - If your credit report lists accounts that you didn't open, there could be a possibility of credit fraud. Unfamiliar accounts opened under your name and Social Security number might be the work of an identity thief. These accounts can sometimes be difficult to dispute, so be patient. There are three steps to take immediately when you learn that identity theft has occurred:

  1. Contact the creditor(s) to close all fraudulent accounts.
  2. Contact the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your report. This stops automatic activation of pre-approved credit offers, and alerts creditors to call you first for approval.
  3. Contact the police, and file a police report. This is a crucial step, as some creditors won't take your dispute seriously until they have received a copy of this report.
Students - Home Buyers - Newly Married - Divorced - Military - ID Theft Victims - Parents