Amid the subprime mortgage crisis and recession, Americans understand the importance of maintaining a strong credit standing. The strength of a consumer's credit report can influence their ability to secure loans and insurance at low rates and gain employment. Because credit standing can make or break a consumer financially, individuals should be diligent about monitoring their credit reports for errors or inaccuracies.
One study asked 30 adults for permission to review their credit reports for accuracy. The findings revealed that nearly 80 percent of credit reports contain errors, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. In that percentage, 22 percent of credit reports listed the same mortgage or loan twice, while 8 percent were missing major loans or mortgage information. Alarmingly, 25 percent contained serious errors that could jeopardize the consumer's ability to secure credit, the U.S. PIRG reports.
These findings demonstrate the importance of monitoring credit reports to ensure that correct information is listed. Consumers who find inaccuracies on their credit reports should begin the process of filing a formal dispute immediately to have the information removed, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Consumers should first contact credit bureaus in addition to the creditor that listed the inaccurate information, the newspaper reports. By contacting both agencies, a coordinated investigation and communication flow may expedite the process, the Journal-Constitution says.
Consumers should also send a letter and copies of all supporting documentation to credit bureaus requesting that the error be removed from the credit report, according to the newspaper. A similar letter should also be delivered to the credit issuer who initially reported the information to credit bureaus. The letter should be as detailed as possible and contain the correct contact and account information, the Journal-Constitution advises. Investigations into disputes may take up to 30 days, the newspaper says.
Credit monitoring is an important component of financial health and literacy. Consumers who regularly examine their credit reports will not only protect themselves from false financial information, but may discover and report identity theft as well. Identity theft affects nearly 11 million Americans each year and may result in a battered credit score if it goes undetected. Consumers should obtain a copy of their report each year to examine for errors.