Did you know that credit report errors could make it difficult to get an auto loan? Or worse, it could indicate credit fraud. If you haven’t looked at your credit report in the last year, now is a good time to get a free copy of your credit report and make sure the information is correct. With low interest rates on auto loans, you may be considering a car purchase this year. Before you start looking for loans, pull out your credit report and keep an eye out for these types of errors:
Social Security Number: Check and double check your social security number to make sure it matches your own. Keep an eye out for extra social security number associated with your name. Sometimes your spouse or child’s social security number may show up on your report. It shouldn’t be there.
Name and address: Just double check the spelling of your name to make sure there aren’t any typos. Additionally, check for any unfamiliar addresses associated with your name. If an identity thief has accessed your personal information they can have utilities set up in your name at another home.
Unfamiliar accounts: You should keep a close eye on open credit accounts, bank accounts and debt. Look at your credit report and make sure there aren’t any credit cards, store cards or bank accounts you do not recognize. Unfamiliar accounts may be errors or forgetfulness on your part, but they are also a sign of fraud. Contact the credit reporting agency as soon as possible to put a hold on your credit if you suspect someone has attempted to open a line of credit using your personal information.
Unpaid debts: Sometimes the three credit reporting agencies don’t have everything up to date. For example, if you consolidate student loans, the loans should only show up on your credit report once. Sometimes the pre-consolidated loans are left on your credit report making it appear like you have more debt than you actually do.
If you have delinquent debt, it will stay on your account for up to seven years. Current accounts typically update within two months. If it’s been longer, make sure you contact the company to make a note on your account that the debt is paid off. After you pay off delinquent debt you can also have the credit bureaus add a note that the debt was settled or paid off. Even though the debt still appears on your credit, creditors can see that you paid your bills.
Wrong account info: Double check that all of the information about your accounts are correct. Common errors include the wrong balance or wrong credit limit listed. Because debt to income is a factor in your credit score, this information needs to be accurate.
If you spot an error on your credit report, contact the credit reporting agency immediately. You may have to submit a written request to change the error. The credit reporting agency will typically investigate the claim and make corrections within 30 to 60 days.
You can receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies every year. Take advantage of the free copies and check each report at least once a year. Errors may be different at each credit reporting agency.