Woman fights $16K credit report error
Here's an excellent reason to pull your 3 major credit reports every year.
If you're one of the growing number of people who plan to make financial resolutions for 2013 -- 46% will, says Fidelity Investments -- let one of them be to pull a copy of each of your three major credit reports.
Who knows what mistakes are lingering there, damaging your credit scores and your ability to get a decent interest rate on a credit card or loan.
Case in point: A Roseville, Calif., woman pulled a credit report and found it listed a 2007 court judgment for $16,159 owed on a Chase credit card, according to a story on CBS Sacramento, although she did not possess a Chase card. She suspected identity theft was involved.
Heather Rose told consumer reporter Kurtis Ming that she didn't get any help from Chase or from the two credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, where she filed error disputes -- until she shared her story with the media.
"Those bureaus tell us they have no records of Rose filing disputes until after we got involved," Ming wrote.
Chase finally issued a letter clearing her of the debt, and the credit bureaus removed the error from her credit reports, the news report said.
Ming also notes that if the credit bureaus don't respond to a dispute, you can now contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You can file an online complaint on the CFPB website on issues pertaining to credit reports, credit cards, other bank services, car and other consumer loans, student loans, mortgages and money transfers.
Of course, you won't know if there's an error on your credit report unless you take a look, and the CFPB says that only one in five consumers does every year (.pdf file). An error could cmoe from something as simple as a data entry typo, or from the result of an illegal act, such as a crook opening accounts in your name.
The New York Times' Bucks blog says only 16 million people get free credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com, a website that exists specifically for that purpose. There, you're entitled to one free report every year from each of the three major bureaus. It's widely recommended that you pull a different report every four months.
"By comparison, 26 million people obtained their reports though various credit monitoring services, which generally require consumers to pay for access to the information," The Times said.
The Federal Trade Commission is expected to issue a major study on credit reporting accuracy in 2014.
Have you resolved to pull your free credit reports? If you've had a problem with accuracy, were you satisfied with the way the dispute was handled?
More from MSN Money:
The credit reporting agencies have taken control of our lives. We worry about our credit scores because they affect our ability to get a job, obtain insurance, and purchase homes, cars or whatever. Yet have you ever tried to dispute an error on your report?
We have become slaves to these agencies and what regulatory controls that exist are a joke. These agencies need to be held responsible for what they report.
Those who have negative information wrongly on their credit report should file a class action suit against the agencies for libel.
"Heather Rose told consumer reporter Kurtis Ming that she didn't get any help from Chase or from the two credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, where she filed error disputes -- until she shared her story with the media.'
"Those bureaus tell us they have no records of Rose filing disputes until after we got involved," Ming wrote."
The question is, "Does Heather Rose have a record of requesting help?" My suggest is anytime one makes a call to question this type of transaction they get the persons name, badge number and etc. then make a memo to file concerning what occurred. It is also good to follow up with a copy of the memo to the business with a return receipt requested letter.
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Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
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A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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