So many errors and not nearly enough time to fix them. A study released yesterday by the National Association of Public Interest Research Groups found that 79 percent of all credit histories contain mistakes.

While most of the mistakes are small, like typos or incorrect dates, a full 25 percent of the credit reports studied contain mistakes significant enough that a lender would reject the credit application. Let’s take a look at some of the other results of the study.

54 percent contain personal demographic data that was misspelled, long-outdated, belonged to someone else, or was simply wrong. 22 percent of the credit reports were missing credit cards, loans, mortgages or other consumer accounts that would have demonstrated the credit worthiness of the borrower. 30 percent of the credit reports listed accounts that had been closed by the consumer as open and active.

Since almost everyone’s credit report has errors, start correcting yours by pulling copies of your credit history from the three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Transunion and Experian. Check names, social security numbers, birthdates and addresses to make sure they’re correct.

Be sure to look for accounts that aren’t yours. Late payments more than 7 years old, credit inquiries more than 2 years old, bankruptcies more than 10 years old, duplicate collections and any other wrong information.

Once you’ve identified the errors, the next thing to do is dispute them in writing. If you got your credit reports via the internet, then you may be able to dispute them online. But be sure to have your supporting data. And finally, be sure to pay all your bills on time going forward.

While credit reporting bureaus have to investigate your report of errors within 30 days, wrong information has a way of finding itself back onto your report. So stay viligant and be sure to check your credit report at least once a year.


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Published: Jun 29, 2004