According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), credit report errors more than doubled during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the CFPB found that many pandemic protections which were designed to help consumers, such as loan forbearance periods on federal student loans and federally backed mortgages, ended up negatively impacting their credit reports as a result of complications such as processing delays and suspended payments being marked incorrectly. 1 This is a significant issue for many consumers, because credit report errors may negatively impact creditworthiness and potentially lead to negative financial consequences, such as being offered higher mortgage interest rates or being turned down for a job or an apartment lease.
Fortunately, changes made during the pandemic have made it easier to stay on top of your credit report. Under new expanded rules, you are now eligible to obtain a free weekly credit report from each of the three nationwide credit reporting bureaus until April 20, 2022. To obtain free reports, go to AnnualCreditReport.com where you can fill out an online form, choose the reports you want, and, after answering some security questions, review your reports online.
If you find an error on your credit report, there are steps you can take to correct it. First, contact the credit reporting agency to dispute the error. You can do this online or by mail. Explain why you are disputing the information and be sure to include documentation that supports your dispute. The credit reporting bureau generally has 30 to 45 days to investigate the disputed information. Once the investigation is complete, the credit reporting bureau must provide you with written results. If the credit reporting bureau confirms that your credit report does contain errors, the information on your report must be removed or corrected.
If you do not agree with the credit bureau’s investigation results, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You can also contact the creditor that reported the information to the credit reporting bureau and dispute it with the creditor directly. If the creditor finds that the information is inaccurate, it must notify each credit bureau to which it has reported the information so the information can be updated or deleted. If you believe the error is the result of identity theft, you may need to take additional steps to resolve the issue, such as placing a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report.
Keep in mind that correcting a credit report error can often be a time-consuming and emotionally draining process. If at any time you believe that your credit reporting rights are being violated, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at consumerfinance.gov.