It’s tough living in a world where your credit score is so important. One little mistake, one missed payment or simply failing to check your credit rating can result in serious repercussions.
While you can avoid putting yourself in a position where you make a mistake or miss a payment, you can’t prevent errors filed by third parties.
So how can you actually tell if your credit score is wrong?
1. Pull your credit report.
Whenever you’re doing anything that involves your credit scores, it’s important you pull your credit report.
You can do this once per year with each of the major credit bureaus. If you’ve already pulled yours, you can always pay a small fee to do it again.
Your report will show your score and all of the entries. It is through the inspection of these entries where you can spot and correct errors.
It’s important to note you won’t actually be able to tell if your score is wrong because each bureau uses confidential and proprietary calculations to calculate it.
However, if you spot an inaccuracy, you can be absolutely certain your score isn’t being calculated correctly.
You must pull all three scores, as some lenders won’t report to all three bureaus. If you don’t, you may end up overlooking an error.
2. Review all entries.
The first thing you’re going to look for are any obviously inaccurate entries.
If you spot a loan or line of credit you never applied for, then you may be the victim of identity theft. You’ll need to contact the lenders for more information to start the process of having these faulty entries removed.
Next, you’ll want to look for any indications of missed payments that aren’t accurate. It’s always possible a payment wasn’t credited.
A good example can be found with mortgage lenders. Many allow you to make a partial payment during the course of the month.
You might choose to do this because you have a little extra cash in your secondary checking account or for any other reason.
However, what you might not have realized is the second portion of that payment was credited toward your principle, not your monthly payment.
While it’s unlikely such an error would exist without you already being aware, it’s always possible. You’ll only find these errors by checking your credit report thoroughly.
“Whenever doing anything that involves credit
scores, it’s important you pull your credit report.”
3. Contact the creditor.
Before filing a dispute with the credit bureau, it’s best to contact your creditor and see if you can work it out. This can be difficult and the process varies greatly from one lender to the next.
Your best bet is to simply get on the phone, explain the situation, ask for help and suggest you’ll take your business elsewhere if no one can help you resolve the matter.
If this proves ineffective, it’s time to file a claim.
4. File a claim of dispute.
All three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) allow you to file a dispute on their website.
However, instead of going this route, get on the phone with someone to discuss the matter. Document who you’ve spoken with, what instructions they’ve provided and always use certified mail when sending correspondence.
By federal law, the credit bureaus have 30 days to process a dispute and determine its validity. What most consumers fail to realize, until it’s too late, is the supporting evidence provided along with your dispute is often overlooked.
The result is most disputes are classified as invalid and the error is never omitted.
At this point, it’s important to get back on the phone and speak with a representative.
Kindly request information that details the reason the dispute was declared invalid, reference your certified letter and the included evidence and suggest you’ll speak with your attorney if necessary.
The reason this is so important, even if you don’t already have an attorney lined up, is the credit bureaus are far more interested in avoiding the expense of a lawsuit than keeping you satisfied.
After all, you’re not really their customer (the lenders are).
It’s always possible you may need to contact an attorney for assistance with the matter, but simply mentioning litigation is often enough to get everything resolved.
You’ll receive a final decision reporting whether or not the inaccuracies were removed, so you won’t have to pull your report again to check.
Photo source: credit360consulting.com.