Building good credit is kind of like baking a cake. Think about it … pay your bills on time, manage your debt wisely, and keep a close eye on your credit report and voilà! You’ve got all the right ingredients to bake up a good credit score. Uh, I mean cake. But what happens if you’re a first-time baker and you mistake the need for a whole egg for the actual whole egg, shell and all? Delicious to disaster in no time flat, and you know it.
So, what would be the whole egg in the credit world? How about invalid, unverifiable or inaccurate information on your credit report?
Believe it or not, it happens all the time. And, when it does … you are faced with two options: Continue serving the cake with the whole egg (and watch your taste-testers fork through the shells), or fix it. In the credit world, taking the time to fix inaccurate information on your credit report is referred to as a dispute and it’s usually done by contacting the credit bureau with whom you’ve got beef.
As someone who has been the so-called bearer of bad news (the customer service person who notifies clients that it’s not all wine and roses on their credit report), I know that a majority of people don’t know inaccuracies even exist on their report. That is until someone like me brings it to their attention. And, usually by that time, it’s never good.
Inaccuracies include delinquent or open accounts that you had no idea even existed. That’s why it’s important to keep a close eye on your credit report, and why wouldn’t you want to? If you’re working hard to keep your credit afloat, you definitely don’t want any wrong information toying with all your hard work. Quizzle.com is a great place to score a free credit report and all sorts of useful information about your credit. If you haven’t done so already, I highly suggest you check it out.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts when it comes to fixing inaccuracies, so it’s imperative you start working on them right away. Contact the appropriate credit bureau and let them know, “Hey! This information is not right and I want it fixed right now!” But, make sure you throw a “please” in there somewhere. No one likes a rude client.
You may also want to try shooting them a letter as well, you know, snail mail. You can usually find their contact information at the bottom of your credit report. It’s best to note, however, that the inaccurate information will only be removed if the credit bureau finds the dispute to be valid. For a full guide to correcting inaccuracies and combating identity fraud, check this out.
Not sure how to format the letter? Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s web site for a sample.
If you’re looking to report a dispute with Experian, Quizzle.com also has a specially designed page to connect you to the credit bureau’s dispute form.
Time may heal all wounds, but not in this case. According to some credit experts, the average timeline for removing disputes and obtaining correct information can take anywhere from two weeks to 30 days. So, you may want to get on it.
A good baker wouldn’t let a cake burn in the oven, so don’t let your credit burn a hole in your finances.