Consumers filed a record number of complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2020, according to a report released Monday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit consumer protection group. Credit reporting issues were cited in 282,000, or 63% of the complaints. The majority noted “incorrect information” in credit reports or “information belongs to someone else,” the report said.
Not only did complaints about credit reporting errors top the list of consumer complaints, but the three major credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax – were the top three companies complained about.
Mistakes can put your score at risk
Accuracy is important as any errors in your credit report can indicate identity theft or fraudulent activity on your accounts. And since credit report data is the raw material for credit scores, mistakes can lower your score.
Part of the volume of complaints may be an unintended consequence of payment arrangements mandated in the 2020 coronavirus relief bill and temporary concessions offered by lenders and credit card companies.
But credit reporting errors were common even before the pandemic, says Ed Mierzwinski, senior director of the Federal Consumer Program advocacy and author of the report. Payment adjustments could have resulted in more people checking their credit reports and finding these errors, he says.
Mierzwinski recommends “every consumer with any credit account” to check their credit reports. People who have common names could be at particular risk of confusion, he says.
HOW DO YOU GET YOUR FREE CREDIT REPORTS?
You can get a free credit report from any of the three major credit bureaus by using AnnualCreditReport.com. You will be asked to provide personal identification information – your name, social security number, date of birth and address.
You will also be asked security questions to verify your identity. Some of these can be tough. If you can’t answer correctly, give me a call 877-322-8228 to request your credit reports by mail.
You can also download an application form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
HOW DO YOU READ YOUR CREDIT REPORTS?
Your reports from the three offices don’t look exactly the same. Not every believer reports to all three and the offices present information in various formats. However, you can use a similar process to read your credit reports.
First, check your identification data. Mistakes like spelling mistakes made by a previous employer don’t matter, but something like an address you’ve never lived at could indicate identity theft.
Next, check the account information. Every credit account you have (and some that are closed) should be listed and include:
– Name, account number and opening date of the obligee.
– type of account (credit card, loan, etc.).
– Account status and whether you are up to date with payments. Accounts that were in good standing at the beginning of the pandemic-related payment accommodation must continue to be reported in this way until the end of the accommodation.
– Whether you are a joint account holder, primary user or authorized user.
– Credit limit and / or the original amount of a loan.
– There may be negative information, such as: B. Collection accounts or bankruptcy documents. Make sure you recognize it and that it is correct.
HOW TO DISPUTE BUGS
The Fair Credit Reporting Act holds both the creditor reporting to the credit reporting agencies and the credit reporting agencies responsible for ensuring that the information in your credit reports is accurate.
If you find a mistake on one credit report, check the other two. Deny the bug with any bureau that reports it. You can dispute by mail, phone, or online – the credit report has information on how to submit your dispute. Credit bureaus need to investigate the result and let you know.
You can also contact the company with the wrong information. It must notify the bureaus of the dispute and, if it finds that the information is incorrect or incomplete, ask the credit bureaus to delete it.
If disputes cannot resolve the issue, Mierzwinski recommends filing a complaint with the CFPB and requesting an investigation. That can put additional pressure on correcting misinformation, he says.
Acting director of the CFPB, Dave Uejio, said one of its goals is “to ensure that consumers who file complaints with us get the response and relief they deserve”.