For many people, the idea of checking their credit score comes with a heavy dose of dread. What if it's lower than the last time you saw it?
And some people have never checked it at all. Maybe they don't know how, or maybe they're too afraid to discover they have bad credit. But if you keep your head buried in the sand, you won't know how to correct an error on your credit report or dispute a credit report that contains false information.
Keep reading. We'll discuss exactly how to check your credit score, how to fix credit report errors, and what you can do to make sure it's perfectly accurate from now on.
Checking Your Score
First off, never pay to check your credit score if you can help it. Websites like Credit Karma allow you to make an account and check your scores from the three major credit bureaus for free.
Also, the aforementioned credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — are required to provide you a free credit report once every 12 months. You can strategically stagger your requests for reports from each of these agencies so you can receive your free report every 4 months.
Once you receive your credit report(s), it's time to get out your magnifying glass.
What to Look For
Does everything on your detailed credit report make sense to you? Do you recognize every item?
Maybe there's something on the report that you thought you took care of years ago, like an old debt you've already cleared. Or perhaps you spot something like a late credit card or bill payment from an account you don't recognize.
Either way, it's up to you to make the necessary corrections to get your score back up to where you know it should be.
Submitting a Dispute
The credit reporting agencies that formulate your score are required by law to investigate disputes. If you use a website like Credit Karma, you can simply go through the list of items affecting your credit and choose to dispute them.
If you receive a report directly from one of the credit bureaus, you'll have 30 to 60 days to send them a letter explaining the inaccuracy of the report. You'll have to include all your important information and a detailed description of why the report is inaccurate.
The government actually provides a template for such a dispute letter. Once the agency investigates your dispute, they'll send you a write-up of the results of your dispute. Hopefully, everything will be taken care of and soon your credit score will return to normal — or higher!
Following up on a Credit Bureau Dispute
If you discover credit report inaccuracies, follow up to ensure they have been addressed and eliminated. It can take weeks or even months for your disputed information to change on your credit report. Don't give up on getting the change.
Continue to look every week to see whether the disputed item on your credit report has been removed or otherwise addressed. If, after several months, you do not see progress, you should get in touch with the credit bureau once again or track down the furnisher of the report to make a formal complaint.
Remember, you are the one impacted by an inaccurate credit report. No one else is responsible for ensuring its accuracy. You need to stand up for yourself and exercise your rights to ensure the problem goes away. You can't trust the change has been made until you see it with your own eyes.
Why It's Important to Have a Correct Credit Score
It's never fun to have bad credit. For one, it can lead to some serious financial anxieties.
But what's even worse is what can result from a low score. You might be turned down for home loans, credit cards and more. Even something as small as a transposed Social Security number or an incorrectly spelled last name can impact your credit score negatively because it's wrong. That is why you should check all the information on every credit report. A credit inaccuracy can haunt you for years if you don't address it quickly.
It is not hard to get an error on your credit report changed. But it does require dedication and persistence. You will have to continue to follow up on the problem weekly to get it resolved. Think of it as a marathon rather than a sprint.
Thankfully, there are businesses out there that can cut you a break. For instance, Atlas Credit can provide you with a personal loan even if you do have bad credit. And if you pay off that personal loan month by month, you might even see your credit score improve as a result.
For more information on how Atlas Credit can help you get out of a tight financial situation, even if you have bad credit, contact us today. We have locations across Oklahoma and Texas, and you can also apply for our loans online.