Credit Report errors can cause major setbacks

July 30, 2013 8:23:32 PM PDT
An Oregon woman tried for two years to get the mistakes in her Equifax credit report fixed. This week, a jury awarded her $18.6 million for her trouble. It brings up the question, when was the last time you checked your credit report?

From misspellings to incorrect Social Security numbers, mistakes on credit reports are common. And if you don't get them fixed, it could cost you in the long run.

"I just happened to check it the other day," Karen Bartlett said.

Bartlett says she recently checked her credit report and discovered some surprises.

"I had like some interest charges, like late penalties that I wasn't aware of," Bartlett said.

Jeff Robicau found errors, too, and says it is a process to dispute them.

"You got to contact this person and then contact us back. And then have them send over the proper document. It's always a runaround," Robicau said.

"It is very important for you to stay on top of your credit reporting," Attorney Meahgan Dickerson said.

Dickerson specializes in credit counseling and says it's important to stay on top of your credit report with all three credit reporting agencies.

"And so you might be comfortable with the 675 credit score with Experian, but Equifax may have something very different," Dickerson said.

The biggest credit discrepancy to be aware of? The time a debt remains on your report.

"And if you don't know what the law is, and what the statutory time period is, then you may have debts that are reporting as old as 15 years, that really don't have any business being reported," Dickerson said.

Dickerson says most debts should be removed from your credit report after seven years. She says taking care of erroneous information now will help you in the long run.

"Just being flat out denied for lines of credit is the most common downfall of having poor credit, but then also you're gonna pay a higher interest rate every single time," Dickerson said.

So how difficult is it to dispute an error?

"Disputing can be as easily as clicking a button online," Dickerson said.

However, be prepared to back up your dispute.

"You might have to prove that your wallet got stolen. There are steps involved so you don't want to just sleep on it," Dickerson said.

Dickerson says you should watch out for sites asking you to pay to receive your credit report. You're allowed one free report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once a year. You just have to contact them and put in the request.

Find Jeff on Facebook at ABC13JeffEhling or on Twitter at @jeffehlingabc13

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