Five things you should know to help repair your credit yourself.
1. The three largest national credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax, and Transunion
Credit bureaus, also known as credit reporting agencies, are responsible for collecting, updating, and reporting your credit history. Because these agencies are independent companies, they record and report information differently. In some cases, these differences may result in incorrect discrepancies that you can dispute! The resolution of a dispute in your favor may increase your credit score.
2. AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY approved site by the Consumer Financial Credit Bureau
By law, you are allowed to request a free copy of your credit report annually from EACH of the three credit bureaus. There are multiple ways to perform a free credit report request, but an online request is usually the easiest and quickest method. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only approved site by the Consumer Financial Credit Bureau and is the official site to obtain your free annual credit report.
It is important to note that your free credit report will only show your credit history and not your credit score. While you may want to know this number for other reasons, your credit score is not necessary to file a credit history dispute. Requesting the actual score usually involves paying a fee to the credit bureau, but most credit card companies now offer this information as an added benefit free of charge.
3. Carefully review and highlight any inaccurate or missing information
After requesting all three credit reports, print them, and proceed to review and highlight any potential errors.
According to the Consumer Financial Credit Bureau (CFCB), there are four types of frequent errors in credit reports: Identity errors, incorrect reporting of account status, data management errors, and balance errors. For a more detailed description of these types of errors, visit the CFCB site
4. Dispute errors on your credit report
Use the information you documented and dispute the error with the credit reporting company who sent you the report. If you found an error reflected on all three credit reports, then you will need to submit three individual disputes with each agency.
You can dispute all your errors online. It is usually the quickest method.
Before filing a dispute, read through all the education material, each credit reporting agency offers. All three agencies provide an excellent online guide that will best explain how to document and gather information to best process your dispute.
- Experian Dispute Center
- Equifax Dispute Center
- Transunion Dispute Center
5. Verify your dispute status
Allow 30-45 days to process your dispute. The credit reporting agency will have to contact the company reporting the information you disputed. The reporting company has 30 days to respond, and you should give the credit reporting agency a few days to process the response. If you filed your dispute online, you should receive an email notification.
Finally, if you successfully resolved a dispute in your favor, check your credit score. As I mentioned before, many credit cards will give you your score for free. Checking your credit card account online may be the quickest and cheapest method, but you may want the added protection and surveillance from a monthly credit monitoring service when you are trying to buy a new home. Minor changes to your credit report can have drastic effects on your ability to get a mortgage!