“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .”
If only credit bureaus agreed with that principal of Declaration of Independence straightening out mistakes on your credit report would be easy. Instead, as documented in this New York Times article:
“The three major agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, keep a V.I.P. list of sorts, according to consumer lawyers and legal documents, consisting of celebrities, politicians, judges and other influential people. Those on the list — and they may not even realize they are on it — get special help from workers in the United States in fixing mistakes on their credit reports. Any errors are usually corrected immediately, one lawyer said.
For everyone else, disputes are herded into a largely automated system. Their complaints are often electronically ferried to a subcontractor overseas, where a worker spends, on average, about two minutes figuring out the gist of the matter, boiling it down to a one-to-three-digit computer code that signifies the problem — “account not his/hers,” for example — and sending a dispute form to the creditor to investigate. Many times, consumer advocates say, the investigation translates to a perfunctory check of its records.”
This wouldn’t be such a big deal if credit bureaus were more careful about their records. But every year they acknowledge they make mistakes on millions of people’s credit reports.
Know Your Rights
If you find mistakes on your credit report, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the credit bureaus to correct them but it will not be easy. At least 8 months before you apply for a mortgage or car loan, you should get free copies of your reports through www.annualcreditreport.com and start working to fix any mistakes.