(StatePoint) Spring is in the air and it’s time for the annual ritual of deep cleaning, dusting, mopping, organizing — and checking your credit report.
Experts recommend checking your credit report at each of the national credit reporting agencies (CRAs) several times annually.
When you apply for a new credit card or car loan, for example, a lender pulls a credit report from one or all of the CRAs to check your credit history and determine if you’re a good candidate for a loan. Lenders want to extend loans or credit to people with strong credit reports, so it’s important that the information in your report is accurate.
What to look for
Besides verifying the accuracy of your personal information, check that the financial accounts listed belong to you. Also, make sure that paid-off debt shows as paid and that closed accounts are not listed as open. Other information to look for and possibly correct includes:
• A bankruptcy older than 10 years.
• A late payment more than seven years old.
• Inquiries from unfamiliar companies that pulled your credit report.
How to fix it
If you feel there’s incorrect information in your credit report, you have the right to file a dispute. Accurate credit reports are good for lenders and consumers, because they contribute to informed lending decisions and disputes are part of the CRA’s compliance with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, which promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in credit reports.
Luckily for consumers, steps are being taken to make this process easier. For example, Experian, one of the national credit reporting agencies, recently enhanced and simplified its online dispute process to reflect consumers’ increasing preference for conducting business online. New features include:
• A mobile-optimized platform, allowing you to submit a dispute from your smartphone.
• The ability to submit supporting documents via a smartphone by taking a photo or selecting the image from the camera roll and uploading it.
• The option of receiving notification alerts that update you on the status of your dispute, including confirmation of the submission and when results are available.
• The ability to dispute directly from membership accounts, when members of Experian’s free and paid products are logged in.
“We’re very excited to provide a new dispute experience that recognizes the millions of people who manage their daily activities with smart devices,” said Michelle Felice-Steele, senior director of Product Management at Experian. “We also made several enhancements so the process is more user-friendly and keeps consumers informed about the progress of their disputes. We believe everyone deserves access to quality credit and one of the ways to achieve that is to have an accurate credit report.”
The fastest way to submit a dispute is online through the center, but consumers can also do so with Experian via phone or mail. Experian product members can access the online dispute center from their accounts. For more information on credit reports and filing a dispute, visit experian.com/disputes.
Thanks to new technologies and consumer services, staying on top of your credit report is easier than ever. This spring cleaning season, don’t neglect to review your credit reports.