Remember to check your credit report on a regular basis and not when you are trying to make big purchases. In case you find errors on your report, you need time to fix them. Here are seven steps to help clean your credit report.
1. Order a copy of your credit report
You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This can be obtained through AnnualCreditReport.com.
2. Check the identification information
Make sure your name, address, social security, birthdate and other identifying information is correct. Small discrepancies, like nicknames, don’t affect your score, but if there’s a more serious discrepancy such as an incorrect Social Security number, you will need to fix it.
3. Scan your report for discrepancies or old accounts
If you see an account you do not recognize, find out more about it. Make sure it is your debt and not a mix-up. Negative information should fall off after 7 years and 10 years for Bankruptcy.
4. Watch out for debts that appear multiple times
This can occur when a debt has been sold to a collection agency and sold numerous times. Sometimes the original creditor does not strike the balance from its records. This will appear that the consumer has two outstanding debts.
5. Dispute any mistakes
If you find an error on your credit report, dispute it.
6. Follow up
Keep notes and copies of all communication, and follow up with the disputes.
7. What not to worry
There are a couple items on your credit report that you should not worry about such as closed accounts in good standing can remain on your credit report and some credit inquiries. It is important to concentrate on what is in the report and not the actual credit score.
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Larry SmithConsumer Rights Attorney at SmithMarco, P.C.Larry P. Smith is a consumer attorney and the founder and Managing Partner at SmithMarco, P.C. He has tried dozens of consumer rights cases to verdict and has arbitrated over 700 cases. Additionally, he has amicably resolved over 3,000 consumer fraud, Fair Credit Reporting Act and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act cases via settlement. Mr. Smith has been a guest on multiple radio outlets including WLS and WGN in Chicago providing consumer advice. Mr. Smith also provides leadership and delivers lectures to the National Association of Consumer Advocates, The National Consumer Law Center, and the Chicago Bar Association. Latest posts by Larry Smith (see all)
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